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Hands-on review: Morphée

By Owen McCarthy
Thu 9 Jun 2022

For those of us for whom the words “Circadian rhythm” and “melatonin” have ceased to have any meaning, sleep has become a commodity that sometimes is as rare and as valuable as… and here I ponder for a metaphor that will signify value.. a fresh cauliflower or half a dozen tomatoes. Life in the twenty-first century has become a 24-hour affair. Morphée promises to help restore some balance to your life.  

Well, I think that’s what the soothing French voice told me when I first hit “play.” At first glance it resembles a receptacle for clock keys, tastefully housed in a wooden bowl. Closer inspection, and a quick reference to the instructions, reveal a deeper purpose.  

Ah, sleep, that opiate of my brain with its dulled senses; that pick-me-up that refreshes and restores body, mind and soul. You don’t really realise the importance of sleep until it eludes you for a while. In my sleep-deprived state, the words, “Draai de eerste sleutel om,” were illusory and hovered at the edge of my understanding. “Was ist dass?” I thought, before noticing the friendly “EN” on the other book in the pack. As I write, I’m being told to feel my belly swell as I take a deep breath and lower as I zzzzzzzzzzzz… Oops! More after a wee nap!

I’m now wide awake! After some more playing around I can report that Morphée interface takes a little getting used to. An adult life of touch screens and keyboards has fashioned a brain that had almost forgotten its analogue past. Morphée have made the decision to go mechanical for a purpose. More on that later, but let’s look at the interface.

Quirky is cool!: The three windup keys control the power, settings and functions of the Morphée. There are male and female voice options, and both voices are obviously aimed at engendering feelings of relaxation. Once you get the idea, the keys begin to make perfect sense. I am now at the stage where I can now do it in the dark. The second key chooses the session. Each of the 8 techniques has 8 sessions. The third key sets the timing of your session, either 8 or 20 minutes. Keep practicing and you’ll quickly adjust back to turning keys instead of pressing buttons.

Hats off to Pavlov: The quirky controls do take a little bit of getting used to but already I am starting to gain confidence and have been having fun trying a range of sessions. It is also fun to get your brain used to working with a more mechanical system of control, one that doesn't use digital displays. Computer and television screens are notorious for keeping our brains alert. For that reason, they should never, ever end up in your bedroom. Remember Pavlov’s Dog? Morphée obviously does, and the quirky melatonin-inducing interface is obviously designed to lull our nervous system into blissful sleep. The first key contains 8 relaxation and sleep techniques.

The well-rounded tones of the Morphée voices have their own sleep-inducing properties. When I was setting up in the study it was mere minutes before I felt myself dozing off. In the end I retired to the bedroom, listened to the breathing exercises as I quickly nodded off into a grandpa nap. The mellifluous tones of the speakers will soon have you completely relaxed and heading off to the land of Nod. 

You can control the length of sessions by the switch that lets you choose between 8 or 20 minutes. The breathing exercises are aimed at encouraging relaxation. I have found the sound effects helpful, encouraging my brain to embrace that white noise and forget about my ongoing tinnitus. Last night I fell asleep listening to the sound of water.  

My only complaint is that I am limited to Morphée’s 8 or 20 minutes. I would love to keep it going for much longer.  

Meanwhile, attempting to stay awake by reciting Keat’s Ode to Melancholy” isn’t helping. I’m going to have to reach for my “dull opiate of the brain,” the sort that comes in a mug! 

I’ve managed to stay awake long enough to find that it sells online with prices ranging from NZD$177.00. Charging is done with a USB cable, and gives you seven to ten days of use. 

I hope that my editors recognise my sacrifices as I nap in the course of my data-gathering, all for the sake of keeping you, dear readers, fully informed. My motivation for all these breathing exercises is for far more than my mere quest for air. I breathe and sleep for you.

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