When Therabody founder Dr Jason Wersland first gave me and a handful of other journalists the lowdown about the new Therabody SmartGoggles, I was a bit sceptical, not going to lie. Here we have a wearable wellness device you can put on your face that massages your temples and emits heat to soothe your weary eyes and mind; apparently, it can also help you sleep better.
It all sounds great, but surely, there is more to good sleep than wearing a motorised sleep mask for ten minutes before bed? There was only one way to find out – putting them on to see if they could send me to sleep instantly.
After collecting the device, I didn't get to try the SmartGoggles until the day after, which gave me a little bit of time to assess the situation. I remembered another Therabody device that made me go from sceptic to full-on addict after using it only once: the Therabody RecoverAir JetBoots.
The JetBoots are still in use at home to this day, both by me and my fiancee, and it's one of those products that actually help me recover from runs quicker. They are also convenient to use and store, albeit a bit bulkier than the SmartGoggles. Since the Jetboots were such a big hit, I gave the SmartGoggles the benefit of the doubt - maybe they will work, too?
Well, as it turns out, the Therabody SmartGoggles work, although I'm not sure whether it's because of the combination of heat and massage or other factors. Let me explain.
[PLEASE NOTE: I didn't get the chance to try the whole suite of programmes available in the TheraMind app when testing the SmartGoggles. The app is supposed to provide binaural sounds, among other features, to help you relax better when using the SmartGoggles.]
What are Therabody SmartGoggles?
Powered bySmartSense Technology, Therabody SmartGoggles have an integrated sensor that measures your heart rate to deliver a "personalised experience that increases relaxation." SmartSense Technology powers SmartRelax mode, which is said to slow your heart rate and reduce stress and anxiety.
This effect is achieved by multiple modalities – vibration, massage and heat. Out of the three modes (Focus, SmartRelax and Sleep), two uses heat, with Sleep mode turning this feature off as, according to Therabody, heat increases heart rate, and that's not what you want when you're trying to go to sleep.
Therabody claims that the benefits of using the SmartGoggle include improved sleep quality, reduced eye strain and facial tension, and easing discomfort related to headaches and migraines. Not bad for a device that weighs less than 1 lbs/0.5 kg! The SmartGoggles have a soft liner that distributes pressure evenly around the eyes, so you can focus on relaxing.
Strapping on the SmartGoggles
My first experience with the SmartGoggles was a bit of a mixed bag. I didn't know what to expect and how to use it properly, so I chose the Sleep setting and let it knead away my eyebrows. The process was enjoyable, albeit not too relaxing, especially since the SmartGoggles applied what felt like quite a lot of pressure on my temples – not something I find soothing.
On the second try, I went with a different setting which provided some heat as well as massage; I think it was the 'Focus' setting. Now that I expected the 'gripping' sensation on my forehead, using the SmartGoggles was a more pleasant experience overall. I found myself relaxing more and more as the session went on, and even tried to consciously relax my face and body to aid the process.
After the session, I felt relaxed, but I wasn't convinced that it was because of the massage and the heat. If you think about it, sitting with your eyes closed for 10-15 minutes will relax you, even without a mask over your eyes. I'm sure the vibration and the heat help me feel more relaxed, but would I be able to achieve the same effect by just closing my eyes and breathing?
We might never know, as when I try to sit still for longer than 30 seconds, I get distracted by my phone, someone talking to me, or me fidgeting around. Putting the SmartGoggles on helps me get into the mindset of relaxing, if that makes sense, instead of just sitting around, expecting distractions to come and find me. And the massage and heat aren't in the way of relaxation either.
One thing is for sure: further testing is required to determine the efficacy of the Therabody SmartGoggles. And testing a device that helps you relax isn't something I loathe doing. I would also like to try the mask with the TheraMind app to see how the combination of sound, massage and heat works. Once it's all up and running, I expect the SmartGoggles to send me to sleep even just by thinking about using it.
The Therabody SmartGoggles are available from 20 September 2022 at Therabody for the recommended retail price of €199 / £175 / $199.