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We tested a mini sleep machine that helps you drift off, stay asleep, and wake up at just the right time

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  • The iHome Zenergy Dream Mini sleep-therapy machine won’t take up much space on your nightstand.
  • This machine is meant to help you stay asleep by blocking out distracting environmental noises.
  • You can wake up with a natural simulated sunrise and your favorite music.

I’ve spent years researching and experimenting with different strategies to improve sleep quality using nonpharmacologic methods. One of the best things anyone can do to achieve deep restful sleep naturally is to create a calming bedroom environment. Research studies have observed that being exposed to music therapy before bedtime can result in better sleep. Listening to pink noise (which tones down the high frequencies heard in white noise) is known to reduce brain wave complexity, which in turn induces steady, deep sleep. 

We also know that light therapy can be an effective way to regulate our circadian rhythms, an important factor in maintaining healthy sleep/wake patterns. Practicing mindful meditation and breathing techniques can also reduce stress and nighttime awakenings, naturally tranquilize the nervous system, and slow down the heart rate.

While testing out products and interviewing experts for our best sunrise alarm clock guide, I came across the iHome Zenergy Dream Mini, a bedside sleep-therapy machine that combines light and sound therapy with

meditation
and breathing techniques to create a tranquil atmosphere for better rest. Unlike some other wake-up alarm clocks, the iHome Zenergy Dream Mini gives users the option to fall asleep and wake up to their favorite music. This sunrise alarm clock was one of my favorites out of all the ones we tested because it’s a tiny machine packed with tons of features and customizable options. 

Falling asleep with the iHome Zenergy Dream Mini

The iHome Zenergy Dream Mini is just over two pounds and is only 5.48 inches long, 3.82 wide, and 4.81 inches tall. Its small size and simple yet elegant design make a great addition to any bedroom decor. It includes an AC power adapter that easily connects to any power outlet and a set of helpful, user-friendly instructions. 

Set up is easy, but I highly suggest reading the instructions carefully. Several steps need to be followed to set up the time, the dual alarms, and the fall-asleep and stay-asleep features. The device becomes intuitive and easier to navigate after getting familiar with the settings and buttons. It took me approximately five minutes to set the time and the alarms, and it took less than a minute to pair my iPhone to the

Bluetooth
speaker. I like that I can set two different alarms with different features; I could wake up to either my Spotify playlist via Bluetooth audio or refreshing nature sounds.

The unit is equipped with a Bluetooth speaker to stream music wirelessly; a built-in backup battery in case of temporary power outages; and full-color-blending LEDs wrapped in a soft white fabric to create a soft, pleasant glow. There are 15 small buttons on the top panel to adjust its many features including volume and brightness and a digital clock display that can be shut off completely. The snooze button is strategically placed on the device so that the user doesn’t have to struggle to find it among the rest of the tiny buttons. The device has two alarms that can be set for every day, weekdays only, or weekends only.  

top panel of the iHome Zenergy Dream Mini



Suzy Hernandez/Insider


The iHome Zenergy Dream Mini sound therapy collection is composed of 13 soothing nature sound recordings including brown, pink, and white repeating noise to help cancel out unwanted environmental sound pollution. White noise, like a vacuum or air conditioner, includes all the frequencies humans can hear equally distributed. Pink noise decreases the intensity of higher frequencies so it sounds deeper, and brown noise is even deeper. A few of my favorites were the “focus” pink noise that mimics a soothing waterfall; the brown low-toned “air” sound; and the “dream” sound, a melody in frequencies that mimic theta brain waves that occur in REM sleep.

Additionally, the Zenergy Dream Mini includes three guided meditations like the 4-7-8-breathing technique — an effective method to release tension and reduce stress. It creates calming light therapy cycles with names like “aurora,” “calm,” “energy,” and “glow” that can be paired up with your preferred sound to suit your mood.

I enjoyed drifting off into dreamland with the combination of relaxing light and sound therapy options that signal to the brain when it’s time to settle down. There’s a fall-asleep button that lets users customize their entire wind-down experience. I chose to pair the “heart” sound that mimics a calm heartbeat to promote steady breathing patterns with the “breath” color therapy. This combination created such a serene and comforting ambiance in my bedroom.

The sunrise wake-up profiles are equally as gentle; the unit simulated a peaceful sunrise that gradually brightened up ten minutes before the alarm sounds. I loved waking up to my favorite music on time, feeling energetic and ready to start my day. 

color-blending LEDs on the iHome Zenergy Dream Mini



Suzy Hernandez/Insider


Extra features and a lower price than the competition

What I like about the Zenergy Dream Mini is that for such a small device, it’s packed with a lot of extra features. It elevated my sleep experience by allowing me to personalize a gentle transition from falling asleep to actually sleeping with the fall-asleep and stay-asleep buttons. My “stay asleep” program played my favorite pink or white noise for the rest of the night to cancel out external disruptive sounds that could potentially wake me up in the middle of the night. 

Another key feature is the Zenergy button that activated my chosen sound or guided meditation and light cycle and ended by activating the fall-asleep and stay-asleep features in sequence. It creates an automatic bedtime routine with just one button push. 

Finally, being able to doze off and wake up to my Spotify playlist makes this machine unique because being able to play my music via Bluetooth is a feature that other wake-up lamps I tested lack. Additionally, this lamp is perfect if you’re on a budget. At under $70, it costs less than the Philips SmartSleep Connected, Hatch Restore, and Casper Glow Light. The iHome Zenergy Dream Mini is still equipped with all the essentials for a good night’s rest.

Cons to consider

There are a few things to note about this mini machine. First, you can only set two alarms, and snoozing only lasts up to nine minutes. This might not be great if you need multiple alarms to wake up. Second, I noticed that the brightness of the LEDs is too dim for some individuals who might be heavy sleepers and need intense hues to wake them up. 

Finally, even though you can choose and play your music via Bluetooth, it does not have a companion app. Most of its functionality is set and controlled manually. It might not be the best choice if you’re used to smart devices you can fully customize and control through an app. (iHome does make a pricier, app-controlled version.) Because of this, even though I love the Zenergy Dream Mini, my number one choice is still the Philips SmartSleep Connected, the best overall pick on our best sunrise alarm clock guide. Still, the Zenergy Dream Mini is priced much lower than other options and offers great features that will improve your sleep. 

The bottom line

The iHome Zenergy Dream Mini is specifically designed with effective methods to improve how you fall asleep and how you wake up. There are many sound- and light-therapy options and guided meditations that can be matched to suit anyone’s preferences. Plus, it won’t take up too much space on your nightstand, and the sound quality is pretty decent for such a small machine. 

If you’re someone who would rather not deal with manually controlling and all of its features, this might not be the best option. There are other sunrise alarm clocks like Hatch Restore that can be fully personalized through an app. However, I still highly recommend this tiny sleep therapy machine because it offers a lot for such a low price compared to its competitors and it will still provide you with great results, easing you into sleep, regulating your natural wake-sleep cycles, and providing you with a more pleasant wake-up experience. 

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