I remember the day of AP Psychology when, at the innocent age of 17, we learned the toll stress puts on our bodies. If '90s TV and my difficult-to-please father led me to believe anything, it was that a certain degree of stress was a perfectly normal part of adult life, so I'll admit it was slightly alarming to learn that stress doesn't just have the power to affect our moods. Over time, it wears down physiological processes throughout our bodies, from our immune systems and fertility to blood pressure, increasing our risk of heart attacks. And sleep? Well, turns out it's just as important for mental and physical health, and the two are actually quite related, so when one gets affected, the other will be, too. A stressful day leads to a bad night of sleep, which in turn makes us ill-equipped to handle stress the next day.
I don't think I need to get into all the reasons why, in this day and age, it's so hard to keep stress at bay or routinely get a full night's sleep. Every time I think I've gotten myself into a good routine of eating healthy, exercising daily, and following a feel-good pre-bed ritual, life happens, and I'm back to the same bad habits that increase my stress and impact my sleep. Since we live in a fast-paced digital world, I need a solution that doesn't disrupt my busy lifestyle, which is why I'm intrigued by the Cove headset from Feelmore Labs. By nature hands-free, Cove can be worn while I'm going about any aspect of my day, sitting surprisingly comfortably underneath my messy bun—almost like I'm wearing sunglasses in reverse. In a good way. Actually, in the best way, because it's so light, I genuinely forgot I was wearing it after 20 minutes, which is how long a session with Cove lasts.
In those 20 minutes, it gently (and quietly) vibrates the surface of your skin to increase the calming waves in the brain, bringing it to a relaxed and rested state. If I really want to take advantage of that calm state, I can wear it during a stressful meeting or right before I go to sleep. But since a session only takes 20 minutes and the headset is so light, I really can wear it while I'm doing anything. That's the time it takes to make my breakfast and coffee, catch up on the news, call my mom, or take my dog out for a quick walk. And let's be real… it's a fraction of the time of a good yoga or meditation session. Though, if you want to wear it during a yoga class or while you meditate, you can do that, too.
The creators of Cove say you can feel the effects of one session for hours after and that you can use multiple sessions in a day, but the key is consistent usage, allowing your brain to build resilience to stress, and thus improving sleep, over time. Cove is an investment at $490, but when I think about how easy it will be to reap the daily and long-term benefits, it feels like an investment in my health. After all, Cove is the creation of experts in neuromodulation, mood disorders, and sleep science and has been tested by thousands of individuals. In clinical studies, 90% of people who used Cove consistently for 30 days experienced a stress reduction of 41% and a sleep quality improvement of 50%.
With the accompanying Cove app, available on all smartphones, it's easy to track your sessions and progress. Normally I'm not one to subscribe to any tool or practice that requires a daily habit. Call me a typical Gemini—I'm not ashamed to say routines are not my thing. But 20 minutes of wearing a gently vibrating headset that registers somewhere between "barely noticeable" and "oh, I'm into the way that feels"? Even I can handle that.