Meghan Markle’s wellbeing wearables: NuCalm patch, Fitbits and Oura rings - what are they & how do they work?

The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, was recently spotted wearing a $4 NuCalm patch that promises to relieve stress. But do wellbeing wearables work?

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Wellbeing wearables have been making a mark in the world of health and wellness recently, but what do they actually do?

They are now numerous options to choose from, some even being sported by the rich and famous including, most recently, the Duchess of Sussex, so there are, at least some people who think they are worth the hype.

The term ‘wellbeing wearables’ includes everything from standard fitness trackers, keeping an eye on your heart rate and the number of hours you are sleeping, to more specific monitors tracking vitals such blood pressure. These wearable devices allow the wearer to stick to health and fitness goals and better monitor progress over time.

Alongside these devices are sticky patches which claim to help in a number of areas connected to health and wellness including increasing performance in the gym, improving sleep, and reducing feelings of stress.

Lately, Meghan Markle has been spotted wearing just such a product - a $4 Nucalm patch - on her inner left wrist. It promises to reduce stress using "neuroacoustics". And this isn’t the first time the NuCalm patch has circulated in the health and wellness space - the brand first gained attention when mentioned on Gweyneth’s Paltrow’s Goop website.

So, what are some of the most common examples of wellbeing wearables, what exactly are they and do they work? We’ve put everything you need to know about the new wellness craze in one place.

What are wellbeing wearables?

To simplify, the term “wellbeing wearables” refers to devices that patients can wear to collect health and fitness data. The data collected by the technology can be given to doctors, health providers, insurers and other relevant parties with the wearer’s permission.

Different types of wellbeing wearables

Examples of wellbeing wearables include fitness trackers, blood pressure monitors and biosensors. Perhaps the most common wellbeing wearables you will likely have seen out and about include AppleWatch and FitBits – however, over time, these bits of tech have been developed into items far more discreet than a watch.

More niche examples of wellbeing wearables can include small patches, such as those worn by Meghan Markle. The NuCalm patch is a small, blue disc typically worn on the wrist, and aims to calm the wearer.

Another example of wellbeing wearables is the Oura ring as worn by Prince Harry on the couple’s royal tour of Australia in 2018. The ring works as a sleep tracker and stress slasher, and is a favourite among Paltrow, Will Smith, Jennifer Aniston and Lance Armstrong.

How do wellbeing wearables work?

Wellbeing wearables such as NuCalm are, according to its website, “clinically proven to help relax the brain and the body naturally and within minutes”. The patches work with the brain circuity in the limbic system responsible for activating the stress response and enhances relaxation.

The disc claims to work by creating a shortcut to the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the brain that can stop an anxiety attack by changing the nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode.

This changes the body’s reaction from fight or flight to rest and digest mode. The disc is instructed to be worn three-finger lengths away from the edge of your left wrist.

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