Feeling your heart rate rise, cortisol spike, and fight-flight-freeze instinct activate isn’t much fun. But if stress is misery, there’s some comfort (or schadenfreude) in the knowledge that it has company—and lots of it. In 2022, 27% of adults in the U.S. said they were
Lots of people tout meditation, yoga, breathwork, running, and other mind- and body-based practices as solutions. (Therapy helps, too.) Another possible option comes in the form of a $400 vibrating wearable called the Apollo.
Can a luxe, Star–Trek-meets-millennial-branding bracelet that promises to help improve sleep and bust stress really do it all? The brand sent me one to try out, and, over the course of a few months, I took its vibrational powers for a spin. Here’s my honest review of Apollo Neuro—its pros, its cons, and all its in-betweens.
- Vibrating wearable that claims to reduce stress and improve sleep
- Available in size small (4- to 7.5- inch circumference), medium (5- to 8.5-inch circumference), and large (6- to 11-inch circumference)
- Great for sleep
- Easy to use
- Other features aren’t as effective
- Short battery life
What Is Apollo Neuro?
Technically, it’s just the “Apollo.” (The brand as a whole is “Apollo Neuroscience,” which is often shortened to “Apollo Neuro.”) Whatever you call it, it’s a fitness wearable, but the brand takes pains to specify that it’s not like all the other fitness wearables out there. It doesn’t track the usual markers of health and fitness, like steps and heart rate (in fact, it doesn’t track much of anything, but we’ll get to that in a bit). Instead, it claims to actively improve health through vibrational touch therapy. This means that it vibrates on specific points on your body at different frequencies, depending on how you’re feeling and what you want to achieve.
The product itself is a two-inch rectangle that looks a bit like an old-school Nintendo game cartridge. This cartridge has a slight curvature to mold to the body and is covered by a piece of matte metal. (Available in white, rose gold, and various shades of black and gray.) It comes with a cloth band, so you can wear it around your wrist or ankle, and a small clip, so you can connect it to a shirt collar or bra strap.
It’s important to note that the Apollo is meant for the symptoms of stress, not its causes. Said causes most recently include inflation, supply chain issues, and global uncertainty. A $400 vibrating wearable isn’t going to resolve all that. Even if it did, its price doesn’t make it especially accessible to everyone who might need it—another Anxiety & Depression Association of America “Low-Income” View Source major cause of stress American Psychological Association “More than a quarter of U.S. adults say they’re so stressed they can’t function” View Source is lack of money.
Structural and societal issues of Living in a Society™ aside, this device won’t stop whatever it is that keeps you up at night. But it might make it a little easier to fall asleep, and that’s pretty useful on its own—people who sleep less than eight hours a night American Psychological Association “Stress and Sleep” View Source than those who sleep more than eight hours a night.
Apollo Neuro Cost
The Apollo Neuro is $399. That’s a lot for a wearable that pretty much only vibrates. On the plus side, this is a one-time cost. Unlike other wearables, you don’t have to pay a yearly or monthly fee to access certain features.
How Does Apollo Work?
Apollo Neuro recommends wearing the device for at least three hours a day, five days a week, during the day and night. It also says to start with a low intensity setting the first few times you use it to grow accustomed to the feeling of the vibrations. You can also schedule sessions in advance so your Apollo starts to vibrate automatically at the same time every day.
The Apollo device connects with an app, which comes with the following pre-set sessions:
- Energy and Wake Up: Recommended for the start of the day to wake you up.
- Social and Open: Recommended to elevate mood and reduce stress in social settings.
- Meditation and Mindfulness: Recommended for seasoned meditators or people “allergic to sitting still.”
- Clear and Focused: Recommended for use during work, chores, or things that require attention.
- Rebuild and Recover: Recommended for rebalancing after a day of work or travel.
- Relax and Unwind: Recommended for use about an hour before bed.
- Sleep and Renew: Recommended for use as you’re crawling into bed.
To make it play on your device, find the setting you want on your phone, then press play. Each session comes with a built-in vibration intensity and length. Depending on your needs, you can change them.
I could have used a little more guidance on each setting, how they differed, and how it impacted me. Based on the session names, I had an idea, but some information on exactly how these particular vibrations were making me feel more, say, “clear and focused”—and how they differ from “rebuild and recover” vibes—would have been nice. And because Apollo pretty much only vibrates, and doesn’t track how you’re feeling, I didn’t have a great sense on if the settings worked for me or if they needed a tweak.
Apollo Neuro Side Effects
The Apollo is a vibrating rectangle. As such, it does not have any known side effects.
Does Apollo Neuro Actually Work?
Apollo’s own (preliminary) research says it does.According to the brand’s website, it’s been studied in seven clinical trials and is currently being studied in nine ongoing trials. Preliminary results indicate that the device brings on 19% average increase in deep sleep, 14% average increase in REM sleep, 6% average increase in total sleep time, 4% average decrease in resting heart rate, and 11% average increase in heart rate variability. (That’s the Cleveland Clinic “Heart Rate Variability” View Source —a high one is generally an indicator of good health.) To be clear, these results come directly from trials sponsored by the brand, so they’re not totally unbiased. But its methods seem sound and results are promising.
Does Apollo Neuro Help With Anxiety?
There’s no hard data on whether or not the Apollo can help mitigate anxiety. But in one Frontiers “Mechanical Affective Touch Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: Feasibility, Clinical Outcomes, and Electroencephalography Biomarkers From an Open-Label Trial” View Source on people with anxiety disorders, devices that provided vibration-based touch therapy were shown to reduce symptoms. It stands to reason, then, that the Apollo might help some people with their anxiety.
What I Like About Apollo Neuro
I’m inclined to believe Apollo Neuro’s self-reported data that it improves sleep—mostly because it worked for me. I’m a deep sleeper once I’m out, but it often takes me a while (hours, even) to actually fall asleep. But whenever I switched on the “Sleep and Renew” setting on my Apollo, I found myself nodding off within minutes without any supplements like melatonin, sleepytime tea, or bedtime meditation or yoga.
To me, the device evoked a sensation akin to that of a cat purring on my chest or under my hand— soothing in such way that I couldn’t help but nod off. And, as someone who is often kept awake by an email I just remembered I never sent, or a sudden memory of something mortifying I did in seventh grade, I cannot understate how meaningful this is.
The Apollo is also really, really easy to use. Once it connected with my phone, the process to get it to do what I wanted felt simple and intuitive (even without switching on the automated sessions). This was great in all situations, but especially when I was gearing up for bed and didn’t have room in my head for anything complicated.
What I Don’t Like About Apollo Neuro
As much as I loved the Apollo for sleep, its other features didn’t work as well for me. To be fair, these metrics are harder to track. With something like sleep, you’re either asleep, or you’re not—there’s not a lot of middle ground. There is, however, a lot more nuance with things like “Social and Open” and “Clear and Focused.”
I was most excited about the focus feature. (Like many people, a good deal of the stress I have comes from a constant feeling in the back of my mind that I am, in some way or another, not getting enough done, not being productive enough, and, in some way or another, wasting my short time here on earth. All of this, of course, makes me even less productive.) But when I tried it, all I really noticed was a vague buzziness around my wrist as I tried to type. This did not help me finish my work.
If you use the device regularly, you’ll also have to charge it a lot. I found myself plugging it in daily or every other day when I used it for sleep and one or two other settings during the day. That’s Apple Watch levels, and for a device without a screen, it feels excessive.
The app tracks daily use, too. But there wasn’t much I could do with the information it provided. It just marked that I’d used it, the length, and noted if I had any streaks. This didn’t bother me all that much, but if you like to delve deep into your health stats—like seeing if it actually helps you sleep more or lower your resting heart rate—you’ll have to pair the Apollo with another wearable.
Is Apollo Neuro Worth It?
To me, great, medication-free sleep is priceless. If you feel the same way—and are OK taking a gamble on the other promised features—the Apollo may be worth it to you. If you’re on the fence, Apollo Neuro offers a 30-day money back guarantee. Wherever you land on the stress-and-sleep spectrum, it’s worth a try.
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