Product Endorsement: Apollo Neuro

Short version: This $310 vibrating bracelet dramatically improved my sleep and moderately improved my emotional regulation. The return policy is pretty liberal so if this seems at all appealing I recommend trying it, or one of the cheaper alternatives I haven’t investigated. Between now and Mothers’ Day they are $300. 

[note: the link I use here is an affiliate link that gives you a $40 discount and me a $50 Amazon gift card] 


As a strong believer in luck-based medicine, I have a pretty liberal threshold for trying shit Facebook advertises to me. Most of it is crap, but every once in a while there is something amazing that justifies all the work and return fees. Previous purchases include resistance band clips that measure force applied, sleep-safe headphones that claimed to measure your HRV, and an infrared heat massage. But when I first looked at the Apollo Neuro’s website, it was too dumb even for me. The explanation for how it worked was a mix of absent and stupid, and the rush to provide scientific evidence was somehow worse than nothing. I only tried it because a friend raved about it. He had also thought it sounded deeply stupid and only bought it because his friend raved about it, and I can only assume she also thought it was stupid until someone raved about it to her, in a great circle of life. Now it is your turn to be told it sounds stupid but it works.

[For some people. My sample size is only three people.]

Benefits to me

My sleep improved a lot. I don’t have precise metrics for this because fitbit is stupid, but 1-3 times a week I wake up feeling drugged (positive valence) because my muscles are so relaxed. This never happened before the neuro unless I took actual drugs*. I also estimate my number of remembered wake-ups has been ~halved. 

The Neuro has about 8 hours of battery. When I started using it I always woke up with the battery drained, meaning I’d activated it repeatedly. I now wake up with it at 70-90% charge, partially because I wake up less and thus am not turning it back on, and partially because I use less intense vibration.

[*TBF I regularly take supplements for sleep, so what I really mean here is “unless I took more drugs than baseline”]

My emotional regulation improved as well. There were a number of stressful things I handled better than my baseline. Some of this is subjective, but there are a few things with obvious before-pictures. Most notably:

I have pretty bad medical anxiety, due most notably to dental malpratice leaving me with painful nerve damage, but also some other stuff. Last fall I had a doctor’s appointment on Friday, followed by friend’s child’s medical emergency on Saturday that, due to their newness to the country, I needed to be in charge for. I did it, but I was wrecked for at least a day afterwards, possibly more, and my partner had to put in a lot of emotional energy helping me recover. ~4 weeks into using the Apollo Neuro I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon, followed 8 hours later by a friend’s medical emergency requiring my attention and eventually a 3AM field trip to the ER for which I was the only available driver. I did have a little freak out once I was home, but I recovered to normal faster than I did from the incident in the fall despite that having been a less intense day with more help. 

I also found myself more decisively liking and disliking things, and noticing when things shifted. At parties the transition from “I’m enjoying this” to “I’m done” is clearer, without a lot of “maybe I should hold out and it will get better”. 


The website is stupid, so let me tell you how it really works. The Neuro is shaped like a watch with a large rectangular face. You can wear it around your wrist or ankle with a band, or clip it to clothes. When activated, it vibrates with oscillating intensity. There are 7 programs with varying oscillation patterns and durations: the wake-up program lasts five minutes with a short peak and shifts between off and on quickly, sleep spends longer in both phases and shifts between them much more slowly. Sleep is the longest program but also lowers intensity over time. You can configure the peak intensity but not duration or pattern, which I feel very oppressed by. 

You can change intensity, and pause and restart the last program from the watch, but to choose a program you need the smartphone app. It is impossible to use the watch without a smartphone, which is a serious quality of life issue for those of us with insomniac older relatives. 

The website talks about cumulative effects a lot, and is clearly pushing you to try for several weeks before judging it. There’s even some gamification for the first N hours. This felt to me exactly as necessary as a punch card from a heroin dealer. I loved it from the moment I put it on and found the little badges cheapening of my relationship with my device. But the cumulative effects part was true: as previously mentioned I needed less and less work from the Neuro to sleep, and lowered the intensity setting over time. When I first started most of the programs besides sleep and wake-up ran together, but at 6 weeks in I started really distinguishing the other programs and having strong preferences about which program, which changed over time. 

The website also advertises the Apollo for concentration problems, but I don’t know anyone who’s really tested that.

One thing I want to give the Apollo is that there is no subscription fee. You give them money and they give you the whole product and app. That should be standard but very much isn’t in the as-seen-on-FB crowd.

Cheaper Alternatives?

The Neuro is very expensive and seems like it can’t possibly cost that much to manufacture. For me paying them for the R+D was worth it. It would even have been worth a second one at the same inflated price, had my sleep not improved to the point I didn’t need it. 

Back when I thought I would need a second one to cover a full night of sleep I looked around for cheaper alternatives. None of them quite worked and I gave up when I no longer personally needed it, but if you’re motivated some might be worth checking out. 

The Senate works on a similar principle, but is no cheaper. Its programs are only 10 minutes, which is much too short for me. 

I tried a few sexual vibrators but even those with intermittent patterns transition from on to off much too quickly, which is how I figured out the gentle transition is so important. Presumably there are some that transition gently but I have no idea how to search for them. 

There are apps to vibrate your phone but they are mostly ad-ridden messes I couldn’t deal with. The one I managed to test had the same problem as the sexual vibrators. 

Products aimed at babies: these mostly run on external batteries, but they can be pretty cheap and many don’t require a smart phone. If you try any of these let me know because the alternative is teaching my elderly aunt to use a smart phone and I am not looking forward to it.


This product is very much in “immensely valuable to some people, price and quality of life issues limit its market for now”. If you have anxiety or sleep issues I seriously recommend trying it; the return fee looks to be about $20, although they’re less forthcoming than one might hope. If money is an issue or you’re just feeling curious you could also try the vibrating baby soothers. Amazon sells several and returns are usually free. 

If you do try the Apollo or any other product in the category I’d love to hear from you so I can share the information (please decide in your heart if you want to share your results before you try it, to avoid biasing the data). You can report your experience here

Thanks to my Patreon patrons for supporting this write up, and J for suggesting the Apollo to me in the first place.

5 thoughts on “Product Endorsement: Apollo Neuro”

  1. Sorry, but I still don’t get how this is actually used. Do you just keep it on you and it buzzes all day? Do you start it when you go to sleep and when you wake up at night? Or does it just know what do run when? What does “wake” do, it wakes you up or do you run that program when you wake up?

    1. this is configurable. I put it on and restart programs (5m-2h) through the day, including restarting when I wake up in the middle of the night . You can schedule it to go off at fixed times, but I haven’t used that feature much.

  2. I got this product because of this blog post and am in the middle of setting it up now. (Will report back in a few weeks when I have an opinion.) Do you find that the 7 programs actually correspond to the things they’re supposed to be about? It sounds like the sleep mode certainly worked for your sleep, but does “social and open” actually make you better at social, etc?

    1. It took me a while to tell the middle programs (everything besides wake up, relax, and sleep) apart. Now I do find them different and crave different ones at different times, although they don’t match the descriptions particularly well. I do use social for social events, but I don’t know if the others would be better or worse.

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