Mindspa: Therapist In A Box

Name: Hastens MindSpa

What it is: Hastens, a Swedish bedmaker, sells this digital audio player, which employs special effects through sound and light that supposedly manipulate brain waves to achieve better sleep, sharper mental focus or relief from jet lag. The kit comes with what look like sunglasses and a sleep mask, both of which have light-producing points that blink. The earphones provide corresponding sounds, using voice, music or other audio impulses.

How it works: Hook up the eyewear and earphones to the MindSpa, about the size of a small digital camera. Push the power button, and select a program from the video menu. For example, a better sleep session has blinking lights in various patterns with the hypnotic voice of a doctor. Sessions typically last 20 to 40 minutes.

The good: This thing is a trip. It's pricey but compelling. The sessions I tried seemed to work for more restful sleep and more energy upon waking. Plus, a short session during the day for a mental recharge was a blast. The sessions involving the spoken voice obviously tap into hypnosis. Programs also can be downloaded via the Web site.

The bad: It's expensive, and some instructions for the 35 or so programs may seem daunting at first. On the other hand, I was off and sleeping without reading any directions. Another negative: I used the sleep mask on a commuter train, and I heard one guy make a smart comment that disturbed me for about five seconds. Also, I didn't like one doctor's voice, so that made relaxing more difficult.

Cost: $995

Available from: Visit to find a Hastens store.