Calmness during stressful situations. Energy to spare. Getting the perfect amount of sleep each night. Wouldn’t it be great it you could enter these states of mind whenever you needed?
Enter Thync. This wearable device, partnered with a smartphone app, uses neuroscience to “act in synergy with your mind and body,” which can help you effectively manage your fitness, mindfulness, and sleep:
- Fitness – Thync “tunes your energy” so you can boost your workouts, optimize your performance, and aid in rest and recovery.
- Mindfulness – The Thync app can help you focus, improve meditation, and enhance your yoga practice by reducing your body’s stress responses.
- Sleep – Not only can the Thync app improve your sleep by activating “your body’s natural rest and recovery response,” but it can even give you an afternoon surge of energy without relying on caffeine.
But how does Thync do all of this? What kinds of results can you expect? And even if it works exactly like the manufacturer claims, is it worth the money?
You’ve got a lot of questions about Thync, and we’ll help you find the answers so that you can make a more informed purchasing decision. To start the process, let’s take a closer look at exactly how Thync works.
How Does Thync Improve Your State of Mind?
The Thync system consists of 3 main components: The module, which attaches to the side of your forehead; Calm and Energy strips that snap to the module and also attach to your head; and Vibes (calming or energy states) that are delivered through the Thync app on your iOS or Android device. For a detailed look at how Thync works, be sure to watch the video below.
Taking all of these components together, Thync sends low-energy waveforms to different signal nerves on your head and face, which causes your body to relax or energize (we’ll talk more about this science behind this in the next section). And depending on the Vibes you choose in Thync’s app, this provides three different benefits:
Fitness, Motivation, Intensity, & Energy
When choosing Thync’s Energy Vibes, the system will increase mental arousal, resulting in two advantages. First, your focus and attention will shift, which can improve motivation and mental and physical energy (ever had an inner battle about working out, when the couch is calling your name?).
Second, Thync’s Calm Vibes can “produce physiological relaxation” to help you focus on your training, or even on an upcoming competition. The same Calm Vibes can be implemented after a workout to improve rest and recovery following training.
Mindfulness, Reduced Stress, & Improved Sleep
Speaking of Thync’s Calm Vibes, they’ll also help inhibit stress, block out distractions, and keep you balanced and in the present moment. As you might imagine, this increased relaxation can also help you “achieve a meditative state faster and maintain it for longer.”
Looking to also improve the quality of sleep? Just by wearing Thync 20 minutes before bed, you’ll be able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. And because you won’t need caffeine throughout the day due to your increased mental energy, this will help you sleep even better.
Taken together, this is how Thync can “enhance peak physical and mental performance.”
Sure, these are undoubtedly some fantastic benefits that we could all benefit from. But exactly how does Thync accomplish this? Are their claims supported by science?
The Science Behind Thync
Thync was co-founded in 2011 by “several experts in the fields of neurobiology, neuroscience and consumer electronics from institutions that include MIT, Harvard, and Stanford Universities.” And to build their system, they relied on 40 years of research surrounding transcranial electrical stimulation (TES), also known as neurosignaling.
And although these terms make everything sound complex, PsychCentral.com simplifies it for us:
“Neurosignaling is using the brain’s internal signals (or waveforms) to help you better understand your cognitive or emotional state. Biofeedback is probably the best-understood, oldest intervention method of neurosignaling, where a person is hooked up to electrodes which read electrical and other signals from your brain and skin.”
In a nutshell though, Thync will send low-level electrical impulses to peripheral nerves in your head and face. After receiving these impulses, your nerves activate your parasympathetic nervous system to “counteract stress [and] to help you enter a relaxed "rest and digest" mode.” This means that in a very real way, Thync has the power to change your state of mind.
Or does it? Is there clinical research supporting these claims?
Thync’s Clinical Research
The Thync website references a neurosignaling study from 2015 published in the journal Nature, although it seems to only have measured the physiological changes that occur when wearing the Thync device, but not the real-world effects these changes had on the user. Instead (again, referencing the same PsychCentral article above), according to Thync’s founder, Dr. W. Jamie Tyler:
“One thing we found is that the best way to assay what’s happening is just to ask people how they feel, then you compare that to sham control experiments. That’s both within subjects and between subject designs.
What we’ve found is that now about 75 to 80 percent of the people feel an effect that’s significantly stronger than the sham Vibe — we call them “Vibes.”
In laymen’s terms, in addition to their clinical data, Thync basically used a questionnaire to assess each user’s experience. And while this is certainly positive, the article’s author notes that the placebo effect could skew the results (or make them useless altogether).
Third-Party Research for Neurosignaling
The thing to remember here is that neurosignaling is a very new science, so whether we’re talking about Thync or another device, existing research is slim.
With this in mind, there’s a great deal of skepticism surrounding the technology. In fact, an author on the Patheos blog cam right out and called it “bull**it.”
Despite this skepticism, what are Thync’s real-world customers experiencing?
Customer Feedback for Thync
Amazon customers seemed to be split evenly about Thync, rating the device an average of 3.1 stars based on 70 reviews. There, common compliments referenced mild relaxation or energy (depending on the Vibes used) and ease of use. On the other hand, the most common complaints referenced failure to experience results, problems during use (mainly, losing connectivity with phone), and that you’ll have to keep your neck shaved and swab your skin with alcohol before each use.
TechCrunch was able to demo the Thync system, and found that the Calm Vibes caused a “wave of sluggishness pass over me. I had some difficulty putting words into a coherent question for Goldwasser, and felt a strong urge to take a nap that lasted until I got home. While I may have cranked the settings too high for my first go, the impression I got was that it would be great for falling asleep, not de-stressing at the office.”
Engadget also had a chance to try out Thync before it was officially released, noting “It works for about 80 percent of people. Some users will have no response. Sorry, guys.” However, they did conclude by saying, “All I know for sure is that I enjoyed my experience. I liked it, and want to try it again. I don't know if this was placebo, a willingness for it to work or something else.”
Finally, circling back to the PsychCentral article from earlier, this was their conclusion: “Without supporting published research, I personally wouldn’t bother buying such a device. The placebo effect is just too powerful.”
User reviews aside, how much will Thync set you back?
Is Thync Expensive?
The Thync Kit, which includes the Thync Module, 5 Calm Strips, 5 Energy Strips, Charging Cable, and User Guide, is priced at $199—including free shipping.
The Thync Kit. Image: thync.com
Each Thync strip can be used 5 to 15 times before needing to be replaced, so you can purchase replacement 5-packs for $19.99 each.
If purchased directly through the manufacturer, the Thync system comes with a 30-day refund policy. In order to request one, you’ll need to call the company directly at (408) 484-4808.
Is the Thync System Right for You?
Sure, wondering whether or not the Thync system will work as well as the manufacturer claims is a fairly simple question. Unfortunately, the answer is anything but. Why?
First, the manufacturer claims that Thync will only work for about 80% of those who try it. So, if you’re among the 20% who won’t feel any results, it clearly won’t provide much value for your money.
Unfortunately, the company doesn’t provide any additional information about possible factors that could lead to it not working (assuming that they know, of course). As such, it doesn’t appear that you can know whether or not it’ll work without first forking over the cash.
Second, neurostimulation is a very new science. And although Thync’s management team is comprised of four neuroscientists, there’s a lot more we don’t know about this kind of technology than we do know. On top of this, clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of Thync and other neurostimulation devices is lacking (to put it mildly).
And to compound the issue even further, what little research there is can be plagued by the placebo effect, which is difficult (if not downright impossible) to overcome in clinical trials for these types of devices.
Given all of this, we’ll just have to wait and see if Thync lives up to the hype, and whether or not it ends up being anything more than an expensive toy. But the company behind Thync is certainly legitimate, and stands behind their product with a 30-day refund policy if you’re not satisfied.
What did you think about Thync? Did you experience any benefits? Did it ultimately live up to your expectations? Tell us about it by writing a review below!