Here’s What Happens with the Sensate 2 Wearable Stress Device

Is it The Best Sleep Aid Next to Orgasm?

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  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Battery Life: 19/20
  • Effectiveness: 20/20
  • Wearability: 14/20
  • Range of Programs: 15/20
    Total: 87/100

I don’t think of myself as a nervous person. Actually, my self-image is more Chill DanaTM, in the way of surfers in Southern California, where I live. The fact that I am not a surfer but am actually a nervous person escapes my notice except for moments when my breath gets shallow, my heart starts rapidly pumping and I get dizzy, usually only once a day. Pretty mellow, right? And the other stress tells occur when my face breaks out in spots, I get shingles, start crying in traffic and wake at 4 am, you know, to make a list. So, when I hear of a new relaxation modality, tool or practice, I’m all ears. Enter Sensate 2, the wearable relaxation device.

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What’s a Sensate Device?

The first image I saw of Sensate was of a woman wearing headphones laying back in the grass smiling with what I’ve learned from my time as a sex toy reporter is a clitoral vibrator in black plastic, sitting on her chest. My first thought wasn’t why is she playing with a sex toy in the park, it was she’s gonna get chiggers with her bare head in the grass like that. (I told you I was tense.) But I was wrong—the Sensate 2 black bean is not a sex toy but is instead a vibrating massage device that’s meant to be placed on your chest, activated by an app which prompts it to hum in the calming intensity of your choice.

Meet the Expert

Dr Damien Downing is President of the British Society for Ecological Medicine and was for 20 years Editor of the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. He serves on the Editorial Board of the Orthomolecular News Service. His 1988 book Daylight Robbery was an early warning call to heed how vital vitamin D and sunlight are to human health.

Is This Scientific?

The scientific underpinnings of the device relate to the vagus nerve, a nerve that runs from the cranium to the gut and “regulates sympathetic and parasympathetic responses. The sympathetic nervous system drives the ‘fight or flight’ response in stressful situations, while the parasympathetic nervous system manages our ‘rest and digest’ state,” according to the Sensate team, the Cleveland Clinic and pretty much all mainstream physicians. Point is, this isn’t some Cali hogwash, it’s a real place in the body that causes real and measurable effects.

Here’s how Dr. Damien Downing explained it to me: “When you are stressed or alarmed, your body can easily switch into and get stuck in adrenaline-driven, sympathetic nervous system fight-or-flight mode, or you could say panic mode. It’s understandable if that happens when you can’t work out what is happening in your body and can’t control it.

“The thing is that as a colleague said ‘stress makes you stupid,’” Dr. Downing continued. “You stop thinking rationally because all your impulses are coming from the lizard brain. Then you need to activate the parasympathetic, which is mostly the vagus nerve, to enable you to calm down, “rest and digest”, look after yourself and start thinking again.” He’s given the device to patience who’ve said it changed their life after a few sessions.

How Did You Test It?

I am terrible about consistency, which for a tense non-identifying nervous person is a surprise. However, I intermittently tested the device by laying it on my chest before sleep, tapping the app and laying back to feel sleepy. The device gets high marks for its dependable charging and effective Bluetooth pairing with my phone app. At first, I was put off by the design of the app, which asks you to choose among four modalities: Nature, Space & Time, Sacred Spaces and Breathe. The distinctions eluded me—how was a 10-minute Breathe session (“Soundscapes to go with the flow”) going to be different from a 10 minute Space & Time session (“Allow time to stand still with these neural enhancing tracks”). As it turns out, the sessions seem to have slightly differently paced vibrations—which feel like a cat’s purr on your chest—and unique background sounds, such as the Breathe H2O’s track which featured dripping water and music (perhaps not optimum if you’re someone who gets up to pee a million times a night). While my mind blazed onward, a bit more panicky than I’d expected, I forced myself to stay with the sounds and relax my breathing. I felt I was bad at it—see this why I am crap at meditation—and the next thing you know, I’d be dead out, to wake up the next day or after an hour’s midday nap refreshed like I’d just had a heavy sleep. It’s that falling out feeling when counting backward under the anesthesiologist’s mask, but without any pesky risk of propofol overdose.

While I’ve not tried all of 14-something free programs the device offers, I docked the Sensate 2 a few points for not having a wider library as of yet. (There is an option to join “Sensate Plus” and have two new tracks pushed to you per month; it costs $50 per year.) As for wearability, the adverts show tech worker types wearing the bean, which measures four-by-three inches, around their necks as they walk around writing code or whatever. I don’t feel comfortable wearing it like that, nor does the flat-out relaxation I use it for feel like anything I’d want to do at my desk in public. But as for the effectiveness as a sleep aid, I’m pleased to report it slams—I slept as soundly as after really good sex, or a hard workout, so I’m a fan.

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Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space. Suitcases to sex toys, she's got an opinion on what's best. Dana is based in Los Angeles; her work has also appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue and The New York Times. Check her out on Instagram and LinkedIn.

dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...

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