Have you been reading reviews of the new SENSATE Pebble 2 and are wondering whether it can really help you in the long term? Well after using SENSATE for 30 days I'm ready to give you my in-depth opinon.
SENSATE is a wearable device that stimulates your vagus nerve through chest vibrations. Manufactured by Bioself Technology in the UK, this is the second iteration of their pebble device, with a new rubberised coating, funky edge lighting and a large suite of different soundscapes and vibration patterns designed to activate your nervous system’s foot brake to calm you down, relieve anxiety and help you sleep better. They claim that just 10 minutes a day is enough to stimulate your vagus nerve and calm you down, easing anxiety and stress.
How does Sensate work?
So how does Sensate work? The vibrations on your chest are designed to stimulate your Vagus Nerve. This nerve links your brain to your vital organs and is essential in regulating how you respond to, and how you recover from stressful situations. If you want to know more about the Vagus Nerve then please check out the link to my Vagus Nerve video.
Whilst Vagus Nerve stimulation is still relatively new consumer tech, Vagus Nerve stimulation has been a practice for millennia. The two oldest examples of vibrational vagus nerve stimulation are Chinese QiGong, where chest knocking has been used to open the lungs, and chanting which is known to improve your wellbeing.
To use Sensate, you place the device on your chest, either by lying down or by using the lanyard to hang it from your neck, so that it settles on your chest. You switch it on and open the app on your phone. The app gives you a selection of different tracks to choose from, and each one provides a relaxing soundscape, similar to something that you would hear in a spa…. ambient music with nature sounds, that run for between ten and 30 minutes. So you pop your headphones in, and the Sensate Pebble will begin to vibrate in time with the music.
Currently all of the tracks are available for free but it looks like they have set the app up in a way that will allow them to sell further tracks in the future.
The app is easy to use, reliable and complements the device well with its styling. I’ve rarely had any issues connecting to the pebble, and the only area for improvement that I can see in the app is that it would help if it told you how much battery is left. I know that the lighting on the pebble tells you this, but personally I’d rather find this out in the app.
The sensation of the vibration on your chest is calming and actually comforting. The comfort aspect is really interesting because one aspect of the Vagus Nerve is the role that it has in promoting a feeling of safety. And when you’ve got the Sensate Pebble doing its thing, you really do get that feeling of being safe. Even when using it on a crowded train. So I can really see this device helping people with anxiety or some past trauma where feeling safe is a real problem for them.
You can adjust the intensity of the vibrations but even at the highest setting it’s still comfortable. The vibrations kind of follow the music on the audio programmes, like punctuation marks. You don’t need to use the audio to have the vibrations going. I’ve used it before whilst watching tv, and it still has the desired effect. One area of interest for me is that I have asthma, and I’ve used the Pebble when my chest feels tight and have found that the vibrations calm my asthma down to the point that I don’t need my inhaler, which is brilliant.
In the box you also get an eye mask, but to be honest with you, that’s not something that I’ve found useful.
It’s a little like watching a movie with a subwoofer, where you can feel the bass rather than hear it. The great thing is that this focuses your attention on the vibrations, and so rather than the music just being pleasant background noise, it immerses you and you find yourself right inside the soundscape. I’ve been using the Sensate daily for a week now, testing it in a couple of ways. Firstly, just having it round my neck whilst I’m working. I’ve used it whilst on calls with the music off and also just as I’m doing some work, listening to the music whilst I’m concentrating.
Battery life is ok, it lasts for about an hour or so of use, something like that, and this is one area where I’d like a prompt after the session to put it on charge, because I’ve regularly gone to use it before bed and realised that it’s out of battery. So I’ve taken to keeping it on charge so that it’s always ready to go. I don’t know what that will do to the battery in the longer term, but I’d rather have it ready to go when I want to use it.
Do I recommend the Sensate Pebble?
One of the reasons for doing a 30 day test is that anything that claims to provide health and wellbeing improvement needs time to affect you physically. So in the 30 days I’ve been using the Sensate Pebble every day for at least 10 minutes, I’ve been measuring my Heart Rate Variability, or HRV for short. Now HRV is closely linked to the health of your vagus nerve, so that anything that claims to stimulate your vagus nerve should, over time, deliver a measurable difference in HRV. And in regard of the Sensate Pebble, I’m pleased to say that I’ve seen a 10% improvement in HRV over the 30 days. And although it’s only me testing myself, I am happy that this is significant enough an improvement to recommend the Sensate Pebble for anyone looking to reduce stress levels or help them deal with anxiety better. It’s simple to use, the feeling is very pleasant, in fact much more pleasant than, say the Neuvana Xen which also stimulates the vagus.
My personal preference for using the device is just before going to slee. It’s so effective that I’ve fallen asleep with it still in my chest a number of times. It’s actually a great way to shut down after a busy day. As the weather has improved I’ve been using it in the garden whilst relaxing in the sun.
The only downside is the price. £300 is a lot of money, and the price is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Personally I buy a lot of tech to review because I want to have a suite of devices and approaches that I can recommend to my clients. But I have to say that after 30 days testing this device, I feel that the Sensate Pebble is worth the money at this price. Use it every day and you will get value for money from it in the general improvements in wellbeing that you will get from it.
#sensate #resilience #vagusnerve