Product review: Valkee
Price: €199 (around £156)
Colours available: Black or silver.
Ease of use: Easy but not for total beginners to computers
Useful for: SAD sufferers, easing mood swings, helping regulate sleep and improving tiredness.
Valkee is difficult to describe because, while it’s really very simple, it sounds like science fiction. In the words of the manufacturer, the clinically-tested device: “substitutes the mood-elevating effects of the sun, by channeling safe bright light directly to photosensitive regions of the brain through the ear canal.”
So every morning for the last month or so I have sat in bed with a cup of tea, as rays of sunlight are blasted into my ears for eight minutes a pop. I’m sure that sounds quite nutty, but the truth is, I have felt genuine benefits. And I’ve still been able to listen to Radio 4 as I’m blasted...
The benefits have been two-fold: My sleep patterns have regulated themselves and I’m happier and more alert. Clearly, this is a virtuous circle. I fall asleep easier at night, and stay asleep, and then I wake up more refreshed and have more energy for the day. But alongside general well-being, I also notice that I feel more perky by the end of the eight-minute ‘blast’ too, to the point that that I’m barely touching my tea, let alone needing several to get going.
Valkee is said to work wonders on seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.) which is something I do not knowingly have, but with more regulated moods, better sleep and brighter mornings, I can easily see how someone who really suffers with mood swings or winter doldrums could see even bigger benefits.
The machine itself is around the size of two matchboxes, is very lightweight, and has just one button – to start the ‘session’. (If you need to stop mid-way you can push and hold this same button, otherwise it stops automatically).
It then has two wires with what look like glass earbuds on the ends, a little like very precious earphones.
To charge the battery, which then lasts for around 14 sessions, you need to connect the Valkee to your computer via a USB cable. It may be tricky for those very unfamiliar with computers, but is no more tricky than charging an MP3 player. To change settings, such as the length of each session (to a maximum of 12 minutes) or intensity (low, medium or high – I used the default, high) you also connect to the computer via USB. You must then visit http://myvalkee.com/ to register and personalise your treatment. The site is easy-to-use but those very new to using the internet may need some gentle guidance at first.
In short, did it work? Yes, I felt it did. And clinical trials carried out suggest that nine out of 10 users tested agree.
For more information or to buy the Valkee visit www.valkee.com.