Lullabies, AC/DC, and a new Korean sleep product for children

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that Koreans sleep less than they should. Need a hint? Try looking at how many are sleeping (or trying to sleep) on the subway, bus, or while waiting for a restaurant to deliver lunch. The sleeping habits engendered by kids often carry on to adulthood, which doesn’t bode well for a lot of reasons. Something about staying up late to do homework after going to multiple hagwon, only to look forward to more the next day. Yeah, sleep would be a respite – too bad none of my students seem to get enough of it.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that Koreans sleep less than they should. Need a hint? Try looking at how many are sleeping (or trying to sleep) on the subway, bus, or while waiting for a restaurant to deliver lunch. The sleeping habits engendered by kids often carry on to adulthood, which doesn’t bode well for a lot of reasons. Something about staying up late to do homework after going to multiple hagwon, only to look forward to more the next day. Yeah, sleep would be a respite – too bad none of my students seem to get enough of it.

Before teaching English in Dae Han Min Guk, one of my jobs was a mattress salesperson. Not exactly the best-paying job, though I did get to test the dozens of mattresses out. I knew which ones were soft, hard, cheap, expensive, and tried like hell to convince people that sleep affects your health, your well-being, and plenty more. Getting good sleep makes it easier to remember stuff the next morning, such as where you parked your car, and OH WAIT, I don’t have a car to begin with!

The Icoza Sleep Coordinator arrived the other day after a promise to review it. Therefore, I offer the standard disclosure here: Chris in South Korea was given a complimentary Icoza Sleep Coordinator as exchange for writing this post. The words and opinions contained here are my own.

With the words “GOOD SLEEP MAKE A GOOD BABY” on the outside box, it’s a little hard to know what exactly’s inside. A tool to help procreation, or the tool to help the product of that procreation? Ignore the curious Konglish for a second, and unbox the device. This tear-drop, bottom heavy device promises to “lets children to gain normal sleep pattern. [sic]” – implying that I am somehow not the target user of this device. In all fairness, the English information available when choosing to review it made it sound like a white noise machine.

Lest my wonderful readers begin to wonder, no, there are no kids scampering about my one-room apartment. Sorry to disappoint.

In all seriousness, however, this two-kilogram, all-in-one device solves a lot of problems you might have with your far-from-sleeping child. With a mission of creating “proper bio-rhythms for mothers and children using light and sound”, the literature talks at length about the theraputic benefits of 10,000 lux of blue-white light to “invigorate your serotonins [sic]”, among other things.

Turn it on using the hard-to-miss power button, then peek down either side of the handle for buttons that control music, light, and the alarm. These buttons simply toggle from off to on (or vice versa) – the fine tuning comes in the base of the unit. There, one button serves as both ‘play’ and ‘stop’, while the ‘next’ button skips to the next of the nine lullabies.

While you might find yourself playing ‘Name That Tune’ with a few (I’m almost positive #4 is ‘Oh my Darling Clementine’, and #9 will sound familiar whether you have kids or not), all are sung in Korean for the local snowflakes. I’m not sure how (or if) the product will be localized for other countries; if it’s not, think of it as foreign language exposure. There’s even a temperature and humidity gauge to show low, medium, and high – helpful if you need to adjust the bedroom’s conditions. A sound sensor in the front of the base detects the baby’s crying, although there’s no indication this should replace a baby monitor.

When the music is playing, the + and – buttons control the volume – anything from a soft lullaby to a volume that might make the neighbors complain is possible. When the music is stopped, those two buttons control the brightness of the nightlight. Eight light levels offer everything from a dim nightlight to a brilliant bluish white light – what the box calls a ‘Vitamin Shower’.

A couple of remarks: the build quality is excellent, and will handle being moved long after your kid(s) are too old for lullabies. It’s also obvious a fair amount of thought went into the design. One sour note is the ‘baby safety sensor’; built-in under the handle, it automatically cuts off the nightlight when your hand enters the hole. Know where it is before trying to pick it up and move it out of your way, or pick it up along one side. Another caution: the buttons along the top are unusually sensitive, especially to accidental brushes or light touches. If that power button at the top is pressed, the alarm, light, and sound all get turned off. A future version would hopefully make this harder to accidentally press.

After your kids tire of the nine built-in lullabies, the most underrated feature comes into play: the USB port. Designed for a USB flash drive with MP3’s, what you play through the speakers is entirely up to you. Plug in the flash drive, and the device will playback MP3 songs in a pre-determined order. This isn’t the device’s main function, and you’ll have few options beyond ‘next track’, ‘play’, and ‘stop’. With that said, if your baby falls asleep to AC/DC, you have the option to play the famed band until they fall asleep or you’ve had your moment of nostalgia, whichever comes first.

Beyond putting kids to sleep, some other practical uses involve the basic speaker hardware (background music for tomorrow’s party, perhaps) and the light. It’s serviceable as a nightlight, but is bright enough to light up a room (perhaps good for that dark corner). With no sharp corners, the biggest risk you might run is not turning on the nightlight or letting your toddler decide it MUST be placed in some precarious position just above their head.

The website (http://i-coza.com) claims an English page, but it didn’t work at review time. That the device, however, has no language barrier (icons only) is commendable – you’ll figure out all the main functions in less than five minutes simply by pushing buttons.

Overall, you can pick up for the scientific benefits it’s quick to point out, or simply because it’s useful in more ways than one. Just like the animated movies with double entredres that fly over kids’ heads, the worthwhile uses for adults add to the value it already has with young children.

No retail price available, unsure as to where to pick one up. The next time I head to an E-mart or Homeplus I’ll let you know.

Disclosure: Chris in South Korea was given a complimentary Icoza Sleep Coordinator as exchange for writing this post. The words and opinions contained here are my own.Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2011

This post was originally published on my blog,Chris in South Korea. If you are reading this on another website and there is no linkback or credit given, you are reading an UNAUTHORIZED FEED.



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