Photo courtesy of Apollo Neuro.

This is part of a series giving you an insider’s view of the products coming out of Pittsburgh to change the world. 

If trying to sleep well is a challenge to you, you’re not alone. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 35.2% of all adults in the U.S. report sleeping on average for less than seven hours per night (39.3% in Pennsylvania), even though seven to nine hours is considered the healthy requirement.  

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2020 Sleep in American Poll, 55% of Americans are feeling tired because they’re not sleeping well enough.

No wonder so many apps, trackers and services have sprung up hoping to address the problem. I found one, invented in Pittsburgh, that’s different from the rest — Apollo Neuro.

Although you can wear the device on your wrist like a Fitbit, the Apollo wearable doesn’t give you data about the way you sleep. Instead, it actually tries to help you fall asleep (which affects the way you feel and act during the day) by using vibrations to stimulate the way your body reacts.

I’m one of those poor sleepers — so over the past month, I put Apollo to the test.

At first glance, it looks a lot like wearable fitness trackers — but one major difference becomes obvious quickly — it doesn’t have a display. You can’t glance at your wrist to see your heart rate and it doesn’t tell you how much REM or deep sleep you got last night.

The included instructions tell you to wear Apollo near a bone for best results, such as your ankle, wrist, chest, spine or hip. It comes with a strap and a clip that makes it easy for you to pick the spot you like best. 

After syncing your Apollo device with its companion Apollo Neuro phone app, you can set its pulses based on what you want to accomplish. The app has settings for “Sleep and Renew,” “Relax and Unwind” and “Energy and Wake Up” among others.  

Each setting has a different vibration pattern and can be set at the intensity and duration that you prefer. Apollo recommends keeping the vibration at levels that you hardly notice. Hit the play button on the app and it uses bluetooth to command your Apollo Neuro to vibrate to fit the settings.

At first the vibration is a bit unsettling but the experience becomes comfortable in no time.  

I received emails from the company and videos of the inventor, Dr. David Rabin, which go through hints and tips, and even provide settings that “Dr. Dave,” a neuroscientist and board certified psychiatrist, likes to use for himself.  

I used Dr. Dave’s patterns as my guide, wearing it to wake up, become social, clear my mind, recover after exercise, and of course sleep — which each had different settings. I even wore it to bed so I could turn it on in the middle of the night whenever I woke up and couldn’t fall back asleep. For that, I pressed two buttons that pick up the last setting from the app automatically.

I wore my Fitbit on my left wrist, and moved the Apollo to various parts of my body to understand if it made me feel differently based on location. It did feel better in certain areas — such as on my wrist and at the top of my spine. I didn’t like the vibrations near my chest.  

Thirty days later, I’m still not the best sleeper in the world, but it might have had an impact — and there’s no telling whether using it for 90 days or more would help me sleep like a baby.  

According to Apollo Neuro’s published studies, people who wore it three or more hours, five days a week over three months, got 6% more sleep on average, with increases of 19% in deep sleep and 14% in REM sleep.

The Apollo wearable sells for $349 via the company’s website

So I might continue my usage and report back after a more extended period. In the meantime, I included a video of my Fitbit sleep report from the day I first unboxed the Apollo Neuro and one month later so you can come to your own conclusions.

Know of a product or service being developed in Pittsburgh or by a Pittsburgh-based company that is cool, is creating growth, or will change the world?  Let David know via email and you may see how it works or why it’s cool in these pages.

David RadinCEO of Confirmed

David Radin is CEO of Confirmed ( For decades, he has been leveraging technology and techniques to transform the way his audiences and clients succeed.