My Honest Review Of Truvaga's De-Stressing Vagus Nerve Stimulator

It's the perfect lazy-girl way to wind down.

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What is the Truvaga vagus nerve stimulator? Here's an honest review.
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Ever notice how the brain likes to dredge up embarrassing memories, worries, and stressors right as you climb into bed? It’s why so many people need to listen to rain soundtracks, green noise machines, and comfort TV shows in order to fall asleep. While these can often do the trick, sometimes you need a little something extra — you know, like a handheld vagus nerve stimulator that short circuits your stress away — in order to drift off to dreamland.

As the reigning queen of pre-bed worries, I’m definitely a comfort TV show kind of gal. But even with the folks on Love Island gently gabbing in the background, sometimes stressful thoughts still sneak through and make it hard for me to fall asleep. It’s why I was down to try Truvaga, a cute little device that activates the vagal nerves — aka the main nerves of your parasympathetic nervous system — to trigger a sense of relaxation. It sounds futuristic, but the science behind it is legit.

Essentially, the idea is to use Truvaga to reduce your body’s stress response so it’s easier to fall asleep. It’s also something you can use in the morning or throughout the day when you’re on edge — like maybe before a big meeting — as a way to calm down. It’s small enough to fit in a bag or bedside table, and it’s sold as an effective, safe, non-chemical way to ~chill~.

I gave Truvaga a try every evening before bed for a week to see if it would help me sleep better. Here’s what happened.

Fast Facts

  • Price: $299
  • Best for: Nighttime anxiety, everyday stress
  • My rating: 3.5/5
  • What we like: Easy to use, portable, effective
  • What we don't like: Pricy, can be scary to use at first, check with a doctor before use

How Does Truvaga Work?

Truvaga is a little tool that sends a subtle electric current 1.5 centimeters into your neck to stimulate your vagus nerve, and thus the parasympathetic nervous system’s “rest and digest” response. The vagus nerve is a big deal, as it runs across your abdomen, through your neck, and all the way up to your brain where it plays a role in regulating your heart rate, digestion, and mood.

Your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the stressful fight-or-flight feelings that are all too familiar to the anxious folks of the world. These include increased alertness, energy, sweat, and heart rate. The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is responsible for the rest and digest response which decreases alertness and blood pressure. And when you’re stressed out, that’s exactly what your body needs.

If you’re on edge all the time — maybe from anxiety, a busy job, etc. — your fight-or-flight response can get out of whack. By stimulating the vagus nerve, it helps enhance or turn on the parasympathetic system so your heart rate slows, your blood pressure lowers, and your digestion kicks in. This nerve also boosts serotonin and norepinephrine, aka the neurotransmitters tied to mood and sleep.

Using an electocurrent-based device like Truvaga isn’t the only way to stimulate your vagus nerve, BTW. You can also do it by stretching your neck, taking deep breaths, and even singing or gargling — but Truvaga is appealing because, well, it’s quick and requires barely any effort.

How To Use Truvaga

Truvaga is said to be most effective when you use it for two minutes twice a day — usually once in the morning and again at night. You can also whip it out during the day to combat moments of stress if you like. It might calm you right away, but the company says the best results come after one week of use.

To use the device, find your vagus nerve by using two fingers to locate your pulse on the side of your neck since it passes through this area. Next up, prep your Truvaga by taking off the blue caps and squeezing a pea-sized blob of the conductor gel that comes with the device on both electrodes. (This helps ensure the electrocurrent waves penetrate your skin.)

Turn it on by pressing the + button. You’ll see a green light and a little display screen that shows you how many uses you have left on one charge, as well as the intensity level. Press the electrodes to your neck and tap the + button to increase the intensity until you feel a tingle, as well as a slight muscle twitch in the corner of your mouth. (That’s how you can tell it’s hitting the vagus nerve.)

The intensity should be strong-ish but not painful, which usually happens between levels 15 and 25. As a note: Upping the intensity doesn’t mean you’re activating your vagus nerve more. The option to increase the intensity is just there because everyone’s body is different.

When you put the device on your neck, wiggle it around until it’s in the right spot and then hold it steady for two minutes, after which the Truvaga will beep and turn off. When the session is done, wipe off the gel, put the electrode caps back on, and get thyself to sleep.

First Impression

Real talk: I was a little hesitant to put an electrode on my neck. I was worried I’d do it wrong and shock myself or turn my face into jelly, but in actuality, the device is super gentle and safe.

The tingle felt a lot like a TENS unit, which I’ve used in the past for muscle aches. It’s like a mini vibration or electric shock that you control with a button. When the side of my mouth twitched I knew I’d found my vagus nerve. It was pretty easy to nail on the first try — and no, it didn’t turn my face to jelly.

I decided to add the Truvaga into my nightly routine, which usually involves a shower, my skin care routine, and that comfort TV show. For one week I got into bed, held the Truvaga on my neck for the prescribed two minutes, and even added a little deep breathing for good measure.

The Results

While Truvaga can take up to a week to work, I honestly felt a little more relaxed after the first try. After I used the device I’d snuggle down into bed, just like I always do, but instead of feeling tense or on edge, I actually felt more zen. I’m not sure if it was the device, sitting still and deep breathing, or a combo of both, but I’ll take it.

The sensation was similar to the cozy, chill feeling you get after a good yoga class, but without all the work. While I didn’t fall asleep immediately, I did notice that my mind was quieter and my body felt a lot less tense. It took me less time to fall asleep, and as a bonus, I also noticed that I slept through the night instead of waking up at 3 a.m.

The bottom line: If you have mild stress or anxiety or if you struggle to fall asleep, I’d say this is worth a try. Whenever I use Truvaga, it feels like a switch is flipped. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a simple, lazy girl way to undo stress before bed.

Studies referenced:

Breit, S. (2018). Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain-Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders. Front Psychiatry. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00044.

S. Gerritsen, R. J., & H. Band, G. P. (2017). Breath of Life: The Respiratory Vagal Stimulation Model of Contemplative Activity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00397

Hirotsu, C. (2015). Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions. Sleep Sci. doi: 10.1016/j.slsci.2015.09.002.

Noble, LJ. (2019). Vagus nerve stimulation as a tool for enhancing extinction in exposure-based therapies. Psychopharmacology (Berl). doi: 10.1007/s00213-018-4994-5.

Nonis, R. (2017). Evidence of activation of vagal afferents by non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation: An electrophysiological study in healthy volunteers. Cephalalgia. doi: 10.1177/0333102417717470.

Tindle, J. (2022). Neuroanatomy, Parasympathetic Nervous System. [Updated 2022 Oct 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553141/

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