How coherent breathing with Somnox can help you calm down

How coherent breathing with Somnox can help you calm down

Somnox’ mission is to unlock human potential by improving the sleep of 100 million people by 2030. We are continually working with sleep science experts, neuroscientists and health professionals to ensure that our products live up to this goal. In our last experiment, we investigated how the Sleep Robot supports coherent breathing to calm you down. We observed that coherent breathing exercises with the Somnox Sleep Robot before bedtime and just after waking up aligns your breathing and heart rate, and helps decrease resting heart rate, which are indicators of relaxation. More research into the effects of coherent breathing will be done in future studies.

Somnox is committed to developing products that you can trust. We continually improve our products based upon user experiences and the latest research. Sleep has a large impact on your wellbeing and it is important that we take your health seriously. Therefore, we will keep sharing our learnings with you. Wondering whether Somnox is right for you? Take our quiz and get our free advice.


What is coherent breathing?

You breathe in and breathe out, without actually thinking about it. You unconsciously inhale to let air into your lungs and oxygenate your body’s tissues. What’s unique about breathing is that you can take it under conscious control too. Coherent breathing is all about conscious, slow and rhythmic breathing. Your natural breathing rate ranges from ten to twenty breaths per minute (1). With coherent breathing, you decrease this breathing rate significantly to six breaths per minute. This has been proven to have a relaxing effect on the body and mind (2).


The effect of coherent breathing has something to do with your autonomic nervous system, which can be divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system controls your stress responses (fight-or-flight) (3,4). The parasympathetic nervous system makes sure your body gets rest for restorative purposes (rest and digest) (3,4). A lower breathing rate and longer exhales lead to parasympathetic effects that initiate a relaxation response (2,5,6). Thus, slow coherent breathing transforms the body from a stressed state into a relaxed state which is favorable for a good night’s sleep (7).

Coherent breathing example: breathe in for four seconds… and breathe out for six seconds… do this breathing exercise for 10 minutes.

How is coherent breathing related to your heartbeat?

What’s interesting, is that coherent breathing impacts your heart rate. While breathing in, your heart rate goes up and while breathing out, your heart rate slightly decreases (see Figure 1 below) (8). This phenomenon is called heart coherence, and is reached during coherent breathing or when experiencing positive emotions, such as love, joy and gratitude. It’s a sign of a happy and healthy body that is resilient to stressful events that can be encountered during the day (9).    Breathing and heart rate

Figure 1: Heart rate goes up while breathing in and heart rate goes down while breathing out. This occurs when you practice coherent breathing and is a sign of a stress-resilient body.


How to do coherent breathing with Somnox?

Coherent breathing can relieve stress and therefore help you fall asleep more easily (9). You can use the Somnox Sleep Robot to do coherent breathing exercises (see Figure 2). We recommend performing these exercises just before going to bed for a good night’s sleep, or just after waking up to start the day peacefully.

The following settings for the Sleep Robot are recommended:

  • Program: Napping
  • Breathing start rate: 6 breaths per minute
  • Breathing end rate: 6 breaths per minute
  • Breathing duration: 10-15 minutes
  • Select some soothing sounds according to your preference

You can change your breathing settings in the mobile application. More information how to do this can be found here: 

Sleep Robot and heart coherence

Figure 2: With the Sleep Robot, you can practice coherent breathing which consists of a regular breathing pattern and has a sinus-like effect on heart rate. This is a sign of parasympathetic dominance.


Let’s take a closer look at our experiment

The Somnox Sleep Robot is designed to let go of stress and prepare the mind for sleep with breathing exercises. After all, hyperarousal (an overactive body and mind) is a very important sleep influencing factor (10-12). Heart rate is an important measure for stress. Therefore, Somnox has investigated the effects of coherent breathing with the Sleep Robot on heart rate.

Five volunteers participated in this four-week experiment. In week one, baseline heart rate measurements were done daily in the morning. In week two, three and four, participants did coherent breathing exercises in the morning and evening while heart rate was monitored (using the PolarH10 Chest Monitor). The breathing exercises consisted of a daily 10-minute program with a breathing rate of 5 or 6 breaths per minute guided by the Somnox Sleep Robot. 

Our research team has performed the data analysis and gained two important findings.

Finding (1): coherent breathing with the Sleep Robot has an effect on heart rate and leads to heart coherence 

Our research team observed that coherent breathing exercises with the Sleep Robot indeed have effects on heart rate and leads to heart coherence. While breathing in, heart rate goes up and while breathing out, heart rate goes down. This is a sign of parasympathetic activity which is part of the relaxation mechanism of your body. In the video below, Julian Jagtenberg, founder of Somnox, demonstrates this phenomenon.

Finding (2): coherent breathing with the Sleep Robot can decrease resting heart rate

We also observed that coherent breathing with the Sleep Robot decreased resting heart rate over the timeframe of four weeks in three out of five participants (see Figure 3). In week one, baseline measurements were conducted. In week two, three and four, participants did coherent breathing exercises with the Sleep Robot. As you can see in Figure 3, resting heart rate decreased or stayed almost constant compared to week one. A lower resting heart rate is a sign of relaxation and overall health & wellbeing, and therefore interesting to investigate further in future experiments.

Resting heart rate over time

Figure 3: This graph shows the resting heart rate of participants over four weeks.


What’s next?

Stress has a large impact on your sleep. The Sleep Robot can help initiate a relaxation response with coherent breathing exercises. These exercises give you a calm mind and prepare you for bed. In our experiment, we observed effects on heart rate which is an important parameter for evaluating stress and relaxation factors. We want to keep exploring the effects of breathing exercises with the Sleep Robot on relaxation and sleep.

Somnox is committed to developing products that you can trust. We continually improve our products based upon user experiences and the latest research. Sleep has a large impact on your wellbeing and it is important that we take your health seriously. Therefore, we will keep sharing our learnings with you. Wondering whether Somnox is right for you? Take our quiz and get our free advice.


Learn more about our latest findings:


  1. Russo MA, Santarelli DM, O’Rourke D. The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human. Breathe. 2017;13(4):298-309
  2. Lin IM, Tai LY, Fan SY. Breathing at a rate of 5.5 breaths per minute with equal inhalation-to-exhalation ratio increases heart rate variability. International Journal of Psychophysiology. 2014;91(3):206-211
  3. Jänig W. Autonomic Nervous System. In: Schmidt R, Thews G, ed. by. Human Physiology. 2nd ed. Berlin: Springer; 1989. P.333-370
  4. Buijs RM. The autonomic nervous system: a balancing act. Handb Clin Neurol. 2013;117:1- 11
  5. Pal GK, Velkumary S, Madanmohan. Effect of short-term practice of breathing exercises on autonomic functions in normal human volunteers. Indian J Med Res. 2004;120(2):115-21
  6. Sunil Naik G, Gaur G, Pal G. Effect of Modified Slow Breathing Exercise on Perceived Stress and Basal Cardiovascular Parameters. Int J Yoga. 2019;11(1):53-58
  7. Jerath R, Beveridge C, Barnes V. Self-regulation of breathing as an adjunctive treatment of insomnia. Front Psychiatry. 2018;9(780):1-7
  8. Pinsky, M., 2006. Chapter 34 – Heart–Lung Interactions. In: R. Albert, A. Slutsky, M. Ranieri and J. Takala, ed., Clinical Critical Care Medicine. [online] Mosby, pp.369-382. Available at: 
  9. Steffen P, Austin T, DeBarros A, Brown T. The Impact of Resonance Frequency Breathing on Measures of Heart Rate Variability, Blood Pressure and Mood. Front Public Health. 2017;5(222):1-6
Research: Sleep Condition Indicator (SCI) & Somnox

Research: Sleep Condition Indicator (SCI) & Somnox


Somnox has performed research into the efficacy of the Sleep Robot in the third quarter of 2020. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the Sleep Robot would mitigate the participants’ insomnia related sleep problems.



Participants were consumers that bought a new Sleep Robot via one of Somnox’ commercial channels. In total, 24 participants completed the study. They were asked to use the Sleep Robot at home like they normally would. Insomnia related sleep problems were evaluated at three time points: before Sleep Robot use, after two weeks and after a month of robot use (approximately 30 days). 

Insomnia related sleep problems were evaluated using the validated SCI questionnaire. This questionnaire consists of eight items: 

  1. How long does it take you to fall asleep?
  2. If you then wake up during the night, how long are you awake for in total?
  3. How many nights a week do you have a problem with your sleep?
  4. How would you rate your sleep quality? 
  5. Thinking about the last month, to what extent has poor sleep affected your mood, energy or relationships?
  6. Thinking about the last month, to what extent has poor sleep affected your concentration, productivity or ability to stay awake?
  7. Thinking about the last month, to what extent has poor sleep troubled you in general?
  8. How long have you had a problem with your sleep?


The SCI questionnaire was sent to new Somnox clients before Sleep Robot use (baseline), after two weeks of Sleep Robot use and after one month of Sleep Robot use. Based upon answers to the questions mentioned above, the SCI score was calculated. This score was representative for the severity of insomnia related sleep problems. The baseline SCI score was compared with the SCI score after two weeks and after one month. Furthermore, the answers to the questions were evaluated separately. Per question, baseline results were compared with results after one month of Sleep Robot use.



SCI score

After two weeks, 42% of participants experienced an improvement of SCI score and after one month this was 71% of participants. Between week 2 and one month, 63% of participants improved their SCI score.

SCI questions separately 

After one month of Sleep Robot use, the total time of awakenings during the night improved from 46-60 minutes to 16-30 minutes (question 2). Moreover, the number of nights during which participants experienced sleep problems decreased from 5-7 to 4 (question 3). Participants were more energetic and improved their mood during the day (question 5). Answers to the other questions of the SCI questionnaire are listed in the table below.


Somnox SCI results



Based upon the results of the SCI questionnaire, we can state that the Sleep Robot improves

  • the time it takes to fall asleep
  • the total time of awakenings during the night
  • sleep quality
  • energy and mood during the day

Looking at the SCI score overall, 71% of participants improved their score after one month meaning that the Sleep Robot helped mitigate insomnia related sleep problems. Participants experienced the biggest improvement between week two and one month. Thus, Somnox can advise their users to use the Sleep Robot at least for one month to experience sleep improvements. This is in line with other sleep- and behavioural therapies. Future studies must focus on evaluating the effect over a longer period of time. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia

What is cognitive behavioral therapy (also called CBT or cognitive behavior therapy)?

There are a lot of forms of therapy today, from massages to hypnosis. Therapy treatment has been hyped up in many creative ways to solve people’s psychological stresses, traumas, and other mental health problems. Therapy often gets a bad rap for taking too many sessions and being ineffective. But, there is a solid form of treatment that has been proven to be more effective despite taking fewer sessions. This treatment is called cognitive behavior therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT, is a form of talk therapy performed with a therapist or other psychiatric professional. This form of psychotherapy increases your awareness of inaccurate or negative thinking, helping you respond to different situations more effectively. CBT is useful for various issues such as depression, PTSD, stress, eating disorders, a sleep disorder or stressful life situations. Often, cognitive behavioral therapy is preferred because it requires fewer sessions than other types of therapy today. And, it focuses on the present, not the past.

Cognitive behavioral therapy works by changing your thinking pattern. Through CBT, you work together with your therapist to pinpoint the unhealthy or harmful thinking that is causing your mental health problems. The theory behind CBT is that if you can prevent these negative thoughts, you subsequently avoid negative emotions and actions. Through CBT, your quality of life increases as you think more positively and with better awareness.

If you notice that you experience sleeping problems because of stress and anxiety, you are not alone. According to research by Philips (2020), worry and/or stress was reported by 33% of the global respondents as the most limiting factor to a good night’s sleep. In our latest research, 71% of the participants improved on their insomnia complaints in 4 weeks. Click here to learn more about how Somnox can help you achieve a good night’s rest.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the common problems that cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to treat. According to one study from 2015, CBT treatment for anxiety is both efficient and effective. CBT is all about changing your cognitions. For anxiety specifically, CBT is often paired with exposure therapy to achieve maximum results. You learn specific skills connected to the thoughts, emotions, and actions related to the anxiety disorder. Then, you are usually assigned homework to practice these new cognition skills outside. CBT for anxiety usually takes 20 sessions or less.

A study on cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorders demonstrates the effectiveness of CBT in the treatment of anxiety. In this study, each week for 16 weeks, the parents of the children did CBT for 60 minutes a week, and the children did CBT for 30 minutes a week. It was found that 78.5% of the children who did CBT showed improvement through the treatment.

Over the long term of a different study, it was found that most adolescents who did CBT maintained gains over anxiety. Thus, CBT is effective in the short term, and the results are also maintained over a long period.


How does CBT work for insomnia?

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, CBT-i, consists of several procedures that you can follow for different insomnia-related problems. They all incorporate the basic CBT principal of the connection between thought, emotion, and behavior.

Stimulus Control Therapy

Stimulus control therapy involves reassociating the bed with sleep and not with wakefulness. In stimulus control therapy, you only lie in bed if you are sleepy. You rise at the same time every morning too. Even if it’s the middle of the night, if you aren’t feeling tired, you need to get out of bed. Your brain should be thinking that the bed is only for sleep and nothing else.

Sleep Restriction Therapy

Sleep restriction means that you are limiting the amount of time spent in bed. The goal of this is to prevent waking up in the middle of the night. You track your sleep efficiency so that most of the time you spend in bed is spent sleeping, not awake. You’re given a limited number of hours to be in bed, and that’s all you have to sleep. At first, it’s hard because you probably won’t get more than 7 hours of shut-eye, but slowly that amount increases as you become more efficient with your sleep.

Sleep Hygiene

By improving sleep hygiene, you’re changing lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking too much caffeine late in the day, and inactivity. It also involves a bedtime routine that gets you physically ready for bed, such as showering, brushing your teeth and writing in your sleep diary.

Sleep Environment Improvement

Sleep environment improvement means creating a comfortable sleep environment: dark and cool, no TV, no bright lights, and little noise. You remove anything that could bother your sleep.

Relaxation Training

Through relaxation training, you calm your mind and body through meditation, breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation. Relaxation training helps you get in the right place with your mind and body for sleep.

Remaining passively awake

Remaining passively awake means avoiding any effort to fall asleep, making you less worried about trying to fall asleep. Not being worried about better sleep makes it easier to fall asleep.


Biofeedback involves gaining awareness over the body by using technology. Through biofeedback, you can observe things such as your heart rate and muscle tension. Then, you can use this feedback to help identify patterns linked to your sleep habit.

Sleep Robot

This Sleep Robot helps you fall asleep by guiding your breathing, promoting a natural sleeping position, and playing relaxing music. It works really well as an easy sleep aid to help you fall asleep. The Sleep Robot can be considered as a branch of relaxation training and sleep environment improvement. Our validated and patented, drug-free sleep-aid uses continuous and precise breathing simulation to quiet the racing mind assisting you towards deep restorative sleep. Put your hands on the Somnox Sleep Robot and breathe along with the physical sensation of the falling and rising of the breathing pulse. Specifically designed to help you be at your best every day.


Is CBT effective for insomnia?

CBT is proven to work for insomnia, especially when compared to other sleep aids. There are numerous studies and institutions in support of this.

According to the Harvard Health Blog, CBT-i gives you the tools to manage your insomnia disorder better. Thus, you don’t have to take any sleep medication or sleeping pill that may have unwanted side effects, nor do you have to waste your money on sleep medicine.

In addition to this, a meta-analysis study conducted on children and adolescents also found that CTI-i is effective for insomnia.

And, CBT-i is also efficacious, as proven in another study on primary insomnia, which is insomnia not caused by other health problems.


What is the best therapy for insomnia?

The best therapy for poor sleep is CBT-i. As we’ve already explained in the last section, CBT-i is scientifically proven to be efficient and productive.

Compared to other forms of therapy, CBT-i doesn’t cost as much money as the sessions only last for a short time over a few weeks. There is little risk in doing CBT-i.

Many prefer cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia not only for its time and cost-savings but also for the tools it provides for a lifetime. It teaches you how to cope with insomnia and how to deal with it on your own. The ability to deal with insomnia an extremely valuable skill that you can take with you everywhere. This minimalist approach to therapy for insomnia has all of the benefits that one could need for becoming an insomnia treatment.


How long does it take for cognitive behavioral therapy to work?

The amount of time it takes for CBT to work depends from person to person. According to the UT Medical Center, though, you should see improvement by the end of the CBT sessions.

It’s important to remember not to go into CBT with too high of expectations. CBT will most likely help, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t take a long time or that you won’t relapse. CBT enables you to deal with new problems that arise and cope with them most effectively. If you go into CBT with the right mindset, then it could definitely help you.


How do you do CBT for insomnia?

CBT-i works upon the same CBT principle that our thoughts, emotions, and behavior are linked together. For CBT-i, you’ll probably go to a therapist’s office for your CBT-i sessions. Then, you will work together with your therapist to figure out how you can adequately battle your insomnia symptoms and how you can improve your sleep quality and total sleep time during the night. CBT focuses more on the present and less on the past, so don’t expect the stereotypical childhood trauma recollections with your therapist.

Often, you will have assignments or homework to do on your own to practice these new thinking methods to change your cognition. You can refer back to the CBT-i procedures that we’ve gone over for an idea of what you’ll have to do at home.


How long does it take for CBT for insomnia to work?

As with CBT in general, there is no sure way of knowing how long it will take for CBT-i to work. You should see some improvement by the end of the sessions with the therapist, but it could take much longer than that to cure your insomnia fully. Everybody is different, and everyone will progress at different paces.


Key takeaways

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of talk therapy that proves to be more beneficial than other types of treatments and remedies despite its simplicity and short-term commitment to sessions. CBT is so effective because it challenges the root of mental health problems: the negative thought. A negative thought can spark negative emotions and negative behaviors, and CBT works to nip this in the bud.

For insomnia, CBT is a great tool to manage and cure it. A notable aid for CBT-i is the Sleep Robot, which could help overcome your sleep problem. Overall, a combination of CBT-i and the Sleep Robot give you all of the tools that you need to cure your insomnia.