Review

Cove Review: Can vibrations from a $500 wearable help your sleep?

1.5
article thumbnail

AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content.

Cove is a wearable device that promises to reduce your stress and improve your sleep in just 20 minutes a day with no effort on your behalf, which may just be too good to be true.

Chances are, you probably carry some level of stress with you — maybe it's because of your job, or your busy schedule, or dealing with the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic.

It would be convenient there was a device that, through science, allowed you to passively improve the quality of your sleep and lower your levels of stress.

That's the promise Cove hopes to fulfill. The company states that wearing Cove for 20 minutes a day will help activate a brain pathway that enables you to sleep better and overcome stress, with no effort on your behalf.

The Science

According to Cove's website, the headset works by activating the "interoceptive pathway," or the ability to literally "feel" what is happening. Disruptions to one's interoceptive system are thought to cause or exacerbate existing issues, such as depression, anxiety, panic disorders, autism, sleep disorders, and ambient stress.

Cove uses what is called "affective touch," or gentle vibrations, behind your ears. The company claims that this helps to teach your brain to relax.

Cove is backed by more than four years of research, including research done by Brown University and work from a leading researcher from Harvard.

Cove Design

Cove reminds me of those behind-the-head headphones that were extremely popular in the early and mid-'00s. It loops over your ears and rests behind your head. The vibration pads press against the spot just behind your ears.

The comfort level isn't exactly what I'd call "fantastic" by any means. For the first several sessions, I found myself really struggling to get through the last five or ten minutes. I found that this became somewhat easier with repeated use, but I'm always ready to take Cove off by the end of the session. I assume that this may vary from person to person, but if you get headaches from tight headbands or find particular glasses uncomfortable, Cove could be a bit of a problem.

The charging cable sticks out when inserted into Cove

To charge Cove, you'll have to use a micro USB cable, which I'm not a fan of. Not only is it an increasingly outdated cable to use, when connecting it to the device, it doesn't look or feel like it's plugged fully. This became a pretty big pet peeve of mine throughout my usage.

The App

The Cove App is easy to use. Just pair the headset with your iPhone, then hit the start session. Cove will begin a 20-minute session, and you can go about your day.

There is a downside, though. I found that Cove didn't sync every session — it seemed to miss a few here and there. This seemed to be especially true of days where I did more than one session — it would often only record the first.

The sessions

Cove states that you should sit down for 20-minute sessions but suggests that you can get away doing a minimum of 10 minutes. The app tells you to adjust the vibration to the lowest level where you can still perceive it. I found that this often meant starting out a session at a low level and increasing it toward the end — again, I'm not sure if that was just from going a bit numb behind the ears.

The designers say that while doing a session, you can continue doing whatever — watching TV, reading a book, working, chores — provided it doesn't dislodge the Cove from your head. The designers say that you should do at least one session every day, but suggest that two may be even more beneficial. Cove does come with a nice travel case, which I appreciated.

Consistency is key, which is why Cove gives you a nice travel case
Consistency is key, which is why Cove gives you a nice travel case

Unlike other devices we've tried, there's no feedback from Cove. Instead, you're simply asked how to rate how you're feeling. While this is a bit refreshing after the repeated frustration I felt trying to use the UrgoNight, it doesn't really help you gauge how good you're using the device, either.

Efficacy

Did Cove help me sleep better? Not as far as I could tell. I have chronic sleep problems, though, and have had them for the better part of three decades. I was hoping that Cove could provide a bit of relief. Unfortunately, Cove didn't seem to be a cure-all.

Still, I found wearing the device somewhat relaxing, once I got used to being pinched behind the ears. I wouldn't say that it worked miracles, but it seemed to curb some of my stress-induced agitation issues.

I was hopeful that Cove would have helped me sleep better, but I still manage to get about five hours of broken sleep a night. For someone who suffers from occasional sleep issues, it might be more effective.

Overall

In my personal experience, Cove didn't offer much. The device seems solid, but I'm not entirely convinced of the science that the company claims is behind it.

I didn't feel a significant reduction in stress, nor did I sleep any better. So it may be one of those devices where it's not going to work for every person every time. Fortunately, Cove does offer a 45-day trial period, so if you find that it doesn't help, your risk is pretty minimal.

Where to buy Cove

If you'd like to try out Cove for yourself, you can visit feelcove.com and pick one up for $490.

Pros

  • Easy to wear
  • App is easy to navigate
  • Effortless to use

  • Incredibly steep price tag at nearly $500
  • May be uncomfortable to wear for some
  • Efficacy is questionable

Rating: 1.5 out of 5