It sounds like something from a Jetsons cartoon: a wearable device that can improve mood, focus, and sleep, all through gentle vibrations to the skin. What?!
We recently interviewed founder David Rabin, M.D., Ph.D., a board-certified psychiatrist and neuroscientist who specializes in the treatment of chronic stress. His research shows that a wearable device—now sold as Apollo Neuro—could trigger the same soothing neural pathways that are activated by feel-good things like hugs, deep breathing, and meditation.
It all goes back to Dr. Rabin’s interest in treatment-resistant illnesses—such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other ailments in which roughly half of all patients aren’t helped by traditional treatments. What if there was a way to signal to the body that it’s safe by triggering the most fundamental responses of our nervous system? Indeed, the research showed that touch therapy in the form of gentle patterns of sound waves on skin worked to reduce stress.
How Much Stress is Too Much?
Not all stress is bad, points out Dr. Rabin. Stress helps us to grow and meet challenges. But when stress turns to distress, that’s a problem. When stress is healthy, it’s balanced with periods of rest and recovery. When it isn’t, we feel constantly amped up and out of control and are at risk for burnout.
One measure of healthy stress recovery is heart rate variability. Normally, heart rate should rise when we’re responding to stress and then quickly return to normal after the event. In chronically stressed people, the variability is low because the heart rate has lost its flexibility to respond to and recover from stress. But touch therapy (like hugs, hand-holding, or Apollo) can boost our heart rate variability and recovery.
Restoring Self Control with Apollo Neuro
We have known techniques to manage stress and restore a feeling of control (like deep breathing), but the tricky part is that these approaches require effort. And when we (or our teens) are already in the middle of a difficult moment, it’s really hard to implement a new pattern of behavior like meditation or another calming approach. Dr. Rabin says Apollo triggers the same calming response through its delivery of gentle, soothing touch—and “soothing touch is the single most important way we’ve evolved to send safety signals to one another,” says Dr. Rabin.
What about teenagers?
Rabin says the research has shown that the positive response to Apollo is even greater in those under 18 than it is for adults.
That’s great news for families looking for a non-pharmaceutical tool in their approach to family wellness.
I have to admit: I was skeptical, but three of us at Your Teen are already using Apollo Neuro, and we’re all feeling calmer and sleeping better. If you’re thinking of getting one too, be sure to use the code YOURTEEN for 10% off. Meanwhile, check out our video interview with Dr. Rabin for lots more info on the science and use of Apollo Neuro: