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The importance of safety when it comes to sleep

White comfy bed with a pile of white pillows. There is a green plant next to the bed and light is filtering through the curtains.
- Oct 26, 2022

Safety plays a vital role in our sleep. You may be thinking, I’m safe in my home when I sleep, my front door is locked… what’s the big deal? This concept goes much deeper than that. 

Our bodies evolved to keep us safe from threat. At the beginning of human evolution, if there was a potential threat outside of our caves, our bodies wouldn’t let us sleep in order to protect ourselves from danger. Today, we don’t have real lions outside our cave, but our bodies still respond to stress or threat the same way we did thousands of years ago by fighting, running away, or playing dead. Without strong adaptation and critical thinking skills, we often perceive modern day stressors, like an incoming slew of emails or stressful texts, to be as life-threatening as a lion and our bodies actually respond in the same way.  

One example most of us have experienced that illustrates the importance of safety and sleep is sleeping poorly the first night in a hotel when traveling. Many of us struggle to sleep in new places, even when it's a fancy resort with a state-of-the-art king-sized mattress and the most luxurious bedding. Why is that? 

Dr. Michael Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist with more than two decades of experience in his field and a member of the Apollo Neuro™ Scientific Advisory Board, explains that sleep is an incredibly vulnerable state for our bodies. There’s no switch to turn off the human brain’s drive to keep us safe, so when it comes time to sleep and unwind into a vulnerable state, our brain says “nope” in order to keep us safe in a new and possibly dangerous environment. 

Dr. Breus even describes the “first-night effect” which explains why “one hemisphere of your brain stays ‘on’ and is more vigilant during the night to monitor your new surroundings for potential threats. At the same time, you and the rest of your brain are trying to sleep! As a result, you may experience poor quality, fragmented sleep, or you may not even sleep at all.” Essentially, it’s your circadian rhythm responding to the change of scenery. Therefore, we will not enter deep sleep in these circumstances and the next morning we will likely wander down to the continental breakfast feeling less than refreshed. This is why Dr. David Rabin developed Apollo Neuro. 

How the Apollo wearable was born

Apollo Neuro was born from Dr. Dave’s research at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Dave is board-certified psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and co-founder of Apollo Neuro. In his clinical work, Dr. Dave noticed a common theme: all of his patients’ symptoms got worse when they were experiencing stress. Stress sends a signal to our bodies that we’re under threat. It kicks off our “fight or flight” response and makes it difficult for us to get the sleep we need in order to recharge and recover, as well as makes it challenging to focus, relax, or socialize. 

Dr. Dave found that deep breathing and meditation are effective techniques to help manage stress, but unfortunately these techniques are difficult to do when we’re already stressed out. Through extensive research, he noticed that touch was often overlooked in stress management, despite its incredible ability to signal safety to the body and reduce stress. Think of a hug from a parent, a partner lovingly holding your hand, or cuddling your pet - these are some of the best feelings in the human experience. 

“Skin hunger is the biological need for human touch. When you touch the skin, it stimulates pressure sensors under the skin that send messages to the vagus [a nerve in the brain.] As vagal activity increases, the nervous system slows down, heart rate and blood pressure decrease, and your brain waves show relaxation. Levels of stress hormones such as cortisol are also decreased. Touch also releases oxytocin, the hormone released during sex and childbirth to bond us together. In other words, human touch is biologically good for you. Being touched makes humans feel calmer, happier, and more sane.” - Sirin Kale, Wired, Skin hunger helps explain your desperate longing for human touch

Dr. Dave discovered that certain waves of vibration can rapidly restore balance to our bodies and minds, much like a hug. The Apollo™ wearable uses silent, soothing waves of vibration that have been proven in both the lab and the real world to change the balance of our nervous systems through our sense of touch, resulting in an average increase of 19% in deep sleep, 40% less feelings of stress and anxiety, 11% increase in HRV, 50% more energy, and up to 25% increase in focus and concentration. In clinical studies, those who used the device reported across-the-board improvements, including about an extra 30 minutes of quality sleep each night.

The Apollo wearable and sleep

We spend about ⅓ of our life in sleep, and when you’re lying in bed is when you’re most vulnerable. It’s important to create an environment for sleep in which you can feel safe. You can do this by making your bedroom quiet and dark, for example; any jarring noises or bright light can keep your body vigilant. 

But when you’ve created a sanctuary for sleep and you’re still having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, the touch therapy of the Apollo wearable can be transformative. 

Prior to sleep

For best results, Dr. Dave recommends wearing the Apollo device for three hours a day, five days a week, during the day and at night. It’s like a workout in that one workout isn’t going to drastically improve your strength, but if you workout consistently, you’ll start to experience changes in your body.

If you’re looking to improve your sleep, one of the key times of your waking hours to wear your Apollo device is prior to sleep to help you unwind from the stressors of the day, be they work, kids, or any part of modern-day life. The silent, soothing vibrations of the Apollo wearable let your body know that you’re safe and in control. 

While some turn to alcohol or cannabis to unwind after a long day, the Apollo wearable can aid during the hours prior to bedtime with no side effects like a next-day hangover or cravings. All you have to do is wear your Apollo device and turn it to Relax and Unwind Mode on your Apollo Neuro app. Set the intensity so you feel a just-noticeable buzz; your Apollo wearable should be subtle, never distracting. These vibrations are enough to signal to your body that it doesn’t have to stay vigilant to protect itself from the “lion”. 
Dr. Dave states, “The reason why we struggle the most to fall asleep is not because of sleep itself. It's because of that transition period between [being] wide awake to asleep or to deep sleep.” The Apollo wearable helps you transition effectively from your productive day into restorative sleep. 

During sleep

Choose the Sleep and Renew Mode on your Apollo app when you go to bed, ideally after using Relax and Unwind. Our studies show that using the Apollo wearable consistently for three hours a day, five days a week can increase your sleep by 30 minutes a night, resulting in over three hours of sleep gained a week. To put those numbers into perspective, these improvements are comparable to what one can expect from adopting a new exercise, meditation, or yoga routine for 30 minutes per day for 3 months just by having a little extra soothing touch in your life every day.

Go back to basics

Claudia M., an Apollo wearable customer, writes, “I have not had a decent night's sleep in years. Apollo Neuro has helped tremendously. I'm sleeping deeper, and if I wake up during the night I reset Apollo and go right back to sleep instead of being awake for hours.”

If you’ve tried other sleep products on the market with no success, go back to basics. We need to feel safe in order to drift into slumber. The Apollo wearable is here to help with exactly that.