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The best nighttime wind-down routines are simply the ones that you stick to. You can make a vow to always light candles, banish your phone from your bedroom and spray lavender all over your pillowcases, and all that other Huberman-ian stuff, but if you’re finding it difficult to keep the cadence every night — perhaps that fact is only stressing you out more — the whole operation gets a little self-defeatist.
Instead, it’s best to work backwards: identify the stuff that works, then just keep doing it.
That’s how I feel about Therabody’s SmartGoggles, which I started testing at the beginning of this year. I wasn’t sure what I was going to use them for (or what I was even supposed to use them for). Hangovers, maybe? Meditation? But one night I picked them up in the space between putting my Kindle down and heading to sleep for a six-minute session. I’ve made sure to keep the goggles charged up ever since. Here’s why they work so well.
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What Are These Goggles, Anyway?
Therabody, you may remember, used to go by Theragun. A few years ago, the brand expanded its offerings from percussive therapy devices (massage guns!) to all sorts of self-care fare: CBD lotions, compression boots, this face thingy. The idea was to accommodate all wellness buckets — not just the knackered calves of Olympic hopefuls.
The SmartGoggles emerged from this new era of Thera-everything, and to this day, the brand has had some trouble keeping them in stock. If they happen to be sold out on Therabody’s website when you read this, you can also find them at Huckberry and Backcountry.
The goggles are shaped like a sleep mask, though they’re far more robust, with a padded leather on the inside. They’re decently heavy on your eyes, too. Before you fire up the machine, you head to the Therabody app to pick the length and vibe of your session. A countdown commences — 3…2..1… — and then the goggles whir to life, dispensing heat against your face and pulsing vibrations into your cranium.
Whatever session you choose (I tend to go with “End of Day Unwind,” “Island Serenade,” or “Beat & Balance”) will then play in the background, or in your ears, if you’re wearing earbuds. Once it’s done, the app will offer you three numbers: your starting heart rate, your finishing heart rate and your average.
Why We Love Them
It’s worth having your phone near your bed if your last look at it is the Therabody app, instead of Instagram, because these goggles actually work.
The heart rate beats-per-minute I tend to see on my report card is nice and low — always under 50 bpm. Then the placebo I get from that helps my heart rate plunge lower (and helps me relax even more). It’s a pleasant way to officially end the day, to say nothing of the sessions themselves, which are reminiscent of any good meditation app. Think: lapping waves, binaural beats, brown noise, etc.
Why do these goggles work so well? In short, heat compression is great before bed because it lowers your core temperature, which is a core circadian sleep signal. (That’s why you want to shower hot at night and cold in the morning.)
Therabody says it specifically uses its SmartSense Technology (a mixture of slow-wave vibrations and temple massage) to induce that extra-relaxed state, and that the mechanization can also provide relief for headaches and eye strain. I don’t doubt it, and plan to experiment more with the goggles in the coming months. I might even bring them on a plane — they’re a bit clunky, but come in a fairly portable pouch.
For now though, I’m content to keep riding them to a quicker sleep latency (that’s the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep) and a longer sleep duration (sleep debt is no bueno). You can click through the module below to grab a pair for yourself.
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