If there’s one thing on which health experts agree — and there sure aren’t many things — it’s that sleep is incredibly important to our physical, mental and emotional well-being. Quality and quantity of sleep play a role in weight management, productivity and overall happiness. The better we sleep, the better we feel. Getting regular, quality sleep is one of the best things we can do for our minds and bodies.
If you’re a gamer, you probably don’t sleep enough. Even if you don’t push on into the wee hours of the morning playing just one more Halo match, your sleep might not be great. You stare at your phone for hours at night. Or maybe you drink coffee or alcohol, or you’re just stressed from your day. There are dozens of behaviors, habits and situations that impact your nightly snooze.
Feelmore Lab’s The Cove is a wearable headset that promises to reduce stress and improve sleep. In the words of the company, the Cove “applies patented vibration technology to stimulate specialized receptors on the skin behind your ears. This gentle process activates a brain pathway integral to healthy sleep, stress management, and general wellbeing.”
My own sleep is often not optimal. I wake often and rarely feel entirely refreshed. I happily gave the Cove a test run. Did it help?
What It Is
The Cove is a simple, lightweight headset that has two gently pulsing pads that rest on the bones right behind the ears. Ideally, you wear the device twice a day (morning and evening) for 20 minutes. There’s a on/off button and a toggle for adjusting the strength of the vibration. The idea is to barely feel the pulses, which are slow and periodic.
There is an app used to control the device, to monitor and keep track of sessions and track things like mood and sleep quality. The app connects to the Cove via Bluetooth. The Cove is charged via an included, braided USB cable.
The device itself feels and looks well made and very minimal. It’s unobtrusive enough to wear comfortably while doing most daily activities. My biggest complaint is that it’s awkward wearing the Cove and glasses, as they compete for ear space. Because every head is a slightly different size and shape, the Cove is adjustable. The Cove is a little like bone induction headphones in design.
The app was a bit hit or miss for me, unfortunately. I had issues with pairing it to the Cove and several times had to uninstall/reinstall it, which erases whatever data had been recorded. It is simple enough to start and control the Cove manually. The Cove automatically shuts off after a 20-minute session. I found that it required charging on average after three sessions.
How It Works
If you’ve ever been comforted or calmed by a touch from a loved one, you’ve experienced something called affective touch. This is because we have receptors on our skin — called CT afferent nerves — that respond to social touch. According to the company’s website, they become most active “when our skin is stroked, with low pressure, at a speed between one and ten centimeters per second.” The CT afferent nerves send information to a part of the brain called the insular cortex. The insular cortex “helps us make decisions, feel empathy, and react to social situations.”
The Cove uses gentle pulses to simulate affective touch and strengthen neural pathways that contribute to a sense of well-being. MRI studies showed that using the Cove regularly over thirty days strengthened these brain connections. For many users, the result was better sleep, less stress and more resilience.
But Does It Work?
I used the Cove twice daily for two weeks, usually sometime in mid-morning and within an hour of going to sleep. I tracked my sleep with the Apple Health app. For the two week period before I began using the Cove, my daily average sleep time was 6 hours, 59 minutes. At the end of my trial, the average had increased to 7 hours, 28 minutes. I was surprised by the increase.
Quantity of sleep is one measure, but quality is equally important. Although I had a few nights of relatively solid sleep, I still experienced interrupted sleep more often than not, though for perhaps shorter periods.
I’m not sure that the Cove has overall decreased the amount of stress I feel or resulted in a greater feeling of well-being. I do, however, feel that it briefly changed the content and emotional quality of my dreams for the better, which is very interesting.
Gamers, Do You Need the Cove?
There are many proven techniques for increasing the quality of sleep. Diet, exercise, and mindfulness practice help many people. Supplements like melatonin or tart cherry do the trick for others. Some of these things work only occasionally, and some carry risks over time. The Cove has no associated risks and from my experience, seems to have increased the length of my sleep. Feelmore Labs bases most of their research on a thirty-day trial. I will continue to use the Cove and monitor the results. I suspect that, as advertised, the benefits accrue over a longer period than the minimum two weeks.
The Cove is currently on sale for $349. This is not an insignificant amount, but sleep is critically important and for many people, the Cove might provide the sleep solution that has proven elusive. The Feelmore Labs website has a great deal of research information about the Cove and the science behind it. For anyone interested in the quality and quantity of sleep, it’s a good place to start.
***The Cove was provided by Feelmore Labs for this feature***