By now, everyone knows the power of a deep breath. Meditation apps, therapists, yoga teachers, and maybe even your best friend are always telling you to focus on your breathing whenever you’re stressed, burnt out, or unable to fall asleep. The advice is simple in theory, but it’s so much harder to follow in practice.

Not only is it tough to learn how to pace your breath, but it’s also so easy to get distracted and bail out early from a meditation session or breathing routine. (Your phone is, after all, only a few inches away.) In order to truly relax, it might help to have something to keep you focused.

Enter: Moonbird, a palm-sized device that “breathes” with you. This cute little tool is designed to guide you through slow-paced breathing exercises by expanding and contracting in your hand at the perfect speed. It also has a thumb sensor that measures your heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV) so you can see how relaxed you are in real-time.

As a stressed-out gal, I know for a fact that my heart rate is all over the place and that I need to slow down, chill out, and breathe deeply on a much more regular basis — and then actually stick with it. That’s why I was excited to have something tangible, like Moonbird, to serve as a stress-busting sidekick.

Read on for my honest review of this high-tech breathing pacer. (Hint: It’s my new favorite thing.)

Fast Facts

  • Price: $199.00
  • Best for: Breathing exercises, better sleep, stress relief
  • My rating: 5/5
  • What we like: Easy to use, calming, effective

What Is Moonbird?

Moonbird

Stefanie Broes, Moonbird’s co-founder and CEO, struggled for years to get good sleep. To help her relax, she started to research breathing techniques as a possible fix, but felt like she needed an intuitive tool to help her get it right — and thus Moonbird was born.

Moonbird is a handheld breathing pacer that inflates and deflates. The idea is to match your inhales and exhales with the movement of the device, kind of like it’s your own, personal breathing coach. Because it’s so small, you can easily use it at home, at work, or while you travel — and it works with or without your phone.

The Moonbird also has a built-in heart rate tracker. When you place your thumb on its sensor, it measures your heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), and heart coherence throughout a breathing session, which typically lasts a few minutes. This biofeedback pops up in real time on the Moonbird app so you can see what’s going on.

The tool helps you relax in the moment, which is great if you’re trying to cope with stress, anxiety, or insomnia, but it also teaches you how to breathe better as time goes on. According to the brand, a slowed-down breathing session with Moonbird has been shown to lower stress levels in 10 minutes and ongoing use can also improve your sleep quality by 27%.

By purposefully taking a minute to relax and breathe at a slow, guided rhythm with Moonbird, you can help activate your body’s relaxation reaction called the parasympathetic nervous system, which is sort of like the brakes for your fight-or-flight stress response.

What Is HRV?

Your heart rate variability is the variation between each heartbeat. According to Moonbird, a high HRV indicates good balance, resilience, and ability to adapt. This helps you recover from stress and leads to improved performance, focus, and sleep. You can increase your HRV by breathing slowly.

The app also lets you look at your heart coherence, which tracks how your heart rate syncs with your breathing. This essentially helps measure the balance between your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system.

How To Use Moonbird

You can pick up your Moonbird and start breathing (it’ll automatically inflate and deflate once you do), or scroll through a nice collection of breathing techniques on the app. There’s a slow “breathing break,” for example, where you breathe in for five seconds and out for five seconds, which helps balance your nervous system.

There’s also a breathing technique to help you fall asleep where you breathe in for four seconds and out for six. This type of slightly extended exhalation has been shown to deepen relaxation and calm the nervous system so you can doze off. Or you can try “box breathing,” during which you breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, and pause for four, to calm your mind.

When you get your Moonbird, you’re supposed to do a few intake breathing sessions so the app can register your natural breathing rate and help you improve your stats over time. It’s also possible to set your own breathing rhythm in the app by personalizing the length of inhales and exhales, so you can slightly tweak your daily breathing breaks.

My Experience

Moonbird

Right off the bat, my favorite thing about Moonbird is that it’s so easy to use. I opened up the box to find it fully charged and ready to go. To get started, all I had to do was follow a few simple steps listed on the inside of the box: gently shake the device awake, put my thumb on the censor, and breathe.

Like magic, this little tool started to expand and contract in my hand. I breathed in as it puffed up and out as it deflated. After my first breathing sesh, I downloaded the equally sleek and easy-to-use app that has a Breathe tab with various breathing exercises, a Guide with FAQ, Stats (where you can track your heart rate numbers), and Settings.

Later on, I attempted the “curb anxiety” breathing technique and, with my heart rate on full display, I got to see in real-time that I was, in fact, anxious. My rate had peaks and valleys, which the meditation guide on the app told me was a sign of stress. On my second go, I also found it difficult to match the pace of the Moonbird — which made me realize how much I needed it.

That night, I tried the “falling asleep” breathing technique, and it was so nice to have a little guide by my side. Usually, I stare at TikTok until I pass out, but it was a million times more calming to hold a little device and breathe in and out until I felt more relaxed.

The next day I went with another “curb anxiety” session and found it a little easier to sync my breath with the tool, and that pattern continued each time I did a session. According to the company, it takes about a month to acclimate to slow breathing and feel the full effects, but I noticed a difference within the first few days. Not only was I more relaxed overall, but I was also sleeping better.

I also like that you can use Moonbird with the app open so you can see your heart rate stats, but it’s also possible to pick it up anytime, anywhere, and have yourself some breathwork — no phone required. This is a big plus when you want to practice mindfulness, but easily get distracted by the internet (guilty).

The Takeaway

Since getting my Moonbird, I’ve noticed that I’m way more relaxed than usual. It’s recommended that you practice slow breathing at least two times a day for 10 minutes to reap all the benefits, but I honestly can’t get enough.

My Moonbird now officially lives on my desk so I can grab it whenever I need a breather, and I’ve caught myself reaching for it several times a day. It really is so much easier — and way more fun — to meditate and breathe when it’s timed and tangible. Because of that, I’m giving Moonbird a 10 out of 10.

Studies referenced:

Tindle, J. (2023). Neuroanatomy, Parasympathetic Nervous System. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31985934.

Vermeylen, S. (2022). Evaluation of a Tactile Breath Pacer for Sleep Problems: A Mixed Method Pilot Study. Front. Digit. Health. doi.org/10.3389/fdgth.2022.908159.

Source link