Image source: Rhythm

Dreem headband monitors brain activity to help you sleep

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

An increasing number of health and fitness wearables are offering advanced sleep tracking. They range from run of the mill fitness trackers, to dedicated sleep gadgets such as the Withings Aura, Beddit and Sense Sleep Tracker.

Essential reading: The best fitness trackers for advanced sleep monitoring

Now, there is a Paris-based startup called Rythm, that wants to make a headband that can help you sleep better. It’s called the Dreem. The headband is the first active wearable device that monitors brain activity (EEG), and stimulates the brain with sound to enhance the quality of sleep.

We spoke to CEO and co-founder Hugo Mercier about the science of sleep and Dreem.

We have seen a number of wrist worn wearables that monitor your sleep patterns and provide you with a report in the morning. They can also wake you up in in the appropriate stage of sleep. How is Rythm-Dreem different from other products currently on the market?

Unlike wearables worn on wrists that monitor sleep patterns using an accelerometer, Dreem monitors brain activity directly through (EEG). This is the technology that is used by sleep scientists in a laboratory setting to analyze precise sleep patterns. Dreem is one of the first products to bring this technology to consumers in an comfortable, accessible way.

The device can precisely detect your respective sleep stages but it is more than a passive wearable. Dreem triggers sound that is synchronized with your brain waves to improve the quality of your deep sleep stage. Every morning, users will be able to see their sleep patterns in a report that is the most accurate on the market. They’ll also receive a sleep score that they can track over time.

There is not enough being said about the importance of the deep sleep stage. This stage where most of our body’s important healing mechanisms occur and a lack of deep sleep impairs memory, focus and judgment. As the sound triggered from the Dreem headband extend deep sleep, we’re able to improve memory consolidation, energy restoration, hormone release and preserve degeneration. Overall, when you get more deep sleep at night, you perform better during the day.

Image source: Rhythm

Many of us wake up in the morning feeling groggy and unrefreshed. This is a direct result of waking up in your REM or deep sleep stage. The Dreem app allows you to set an alarm clock to a time when you want to rise. As it monitors your brainwaves through the night and morning, it will wake you up during your light sleep cycle – the optional time so that you feel your best – which might be slightly before or slightly after the original alarm time you set. Accurately being able to monitor your sleep cycles is critical for Dreem to pinpoint the ideal wake-up moment, so that you feel refreshed every day – with scientific precision.

Dreem headband monitors brain activity to help you sleep
Image source: Rhythm

Who do you see as your main competition?

Sleep is a saturated market, and there are a number of companies pushing a variety of solutions, from chemical (sleep pills) to pieces of technology (e.g. Muse, Fitbit, Thync, Jawbone, etc.). However, what is currently on the market is not convincing. A large majority of these products and applications merely monitors movement. Every year, new products and solutions emerge, however, few of them specifically read brain waves and don’t go beyond monitoring. At its core, Dreem is taking wearable a step further by actively stimulating our brain waves through sound to have a direct impact on our deep sleep.

Muse is another company which sells a wearable that monitors EEG signals. They use the information to help you calm your mind. Is the technology in Dreem similar to Muse?

The Rythm EEG foundation is similar but there are a number of key differences. The Dreem headband uses customized advanced sensors that not only are high quality and extremely precise, but that also ensure comfort. With an embedded wearable computer, Dreem processes EEG data in real time through close loop analysis, and stimulates the brain through sound (pink noise), which is transmitted through bone conduction technology to, in turn, optimize and enhance the quality of deep sleep.

Essential reading: Stress busting wearables to help you chill

In deeply studying sleep, we’ve seen a positive link between brain activity and sound. Sound frequencies generate specific brain wave oscillations. Sustained and slow oscillations of sound can create the perfect environment for deep sleep to occur.

While Muse does monitor EEG signals, ‘calming the mind’ is not a measurable element when it comes to examining the quality of sleep. Another big differentiator is the active component of Dreem. Beyond reading and monitoring brainwaves, the device uses sound to stimulate the brain, but isn’t directly influencing the quality of deep sleep. What’s more is that unlike several sleep products on the market, Rythm’s foundation is deeply rooted in science, from working with leading neuroscience institutions to partnering with top scientists.

How does the device achieve Deep Sleep Stimulation?

Researchers have been investigating various ways to achieve deep sleep stimulation over the past ten years, using solutions from drugs to electric or magnetic fields. More recently, we’re seen the exploration of brain activity stimulation with sounds that are audible to the human ear. This is part of the technology that we’re employing at Dreem. Stimulating deep sleep oscillations periodically throughout the night has proven to be an effective way to strengthen slow oscillation overall – the waves that are directly tied to deep sleep. In initial tests, Dreem has extended deep sleep by a significant amount.

Dreem headband monitors brain activity to help you sleep
Image source: Rhythm

What other unique features does Dreem offer?

Get to Know Your Ideal Sleep Patterns. Dreem and the companion app give an accurate window into how you sleep. Beyond seeing the quality of sleep you’re getting every night, you can also track your body’s reaction to specific activities and how they correlate with your sleep, like exercise. The app is integrated with a range of activities to act as your sleep assistant.

Smart Alarm Clock. Select when you want to get up by monitoring your brainwaves and sleep cycles. The application can pinpoints the ideal wake-up moment (during a lighter sleep stage), so that you wake up refreshed.

Sleep Score. Every morning, you’ll get a Dreem Score to prove you’ve have extended deep sleep along with the details into your night’s rest.

When are we likely to see the retail launch and how much is Dreem likely to cost?

The device is available through our website as a part of the exclusive Dreem First program right now. The headband will retail at $349. The broader consumer launch will is slated for early 2017.

How do you see sleep analysis evolving in the future? What can we look forward to?

We believe that everybody should sleep better. Almost ⅓ of the population does not sleep well, which can have disastrous impacts on cognitive and physical performances and overall health. But ensuring everybody gets quality sleep is not an easy task. Sleep is a highly complex problem, with a range of different sleep issues and many types of sleepers. To crack the sleep problem, we believe in 3 keys pillars:

  • Keep and increase the intensity of our fundamental research in neurosciences and sleep medicine through our partnerships
  • Generate an unprecedented amount of data that will help us understand how people sleep and why they are not sleeping well
  • Create an increasing number of features to solve all kind of sleep troubles, with a highly personalized and customized approach (the product is going to be a platform)

Sleep is a very difficult area to crack, but with a balance of top-tier research, massive data, and an individualized approach, Rythm is getting to the core of understanding it.

Dreem headband monitors brain activity to help you sleep
Image source: Rhythm

Any other messages you would like to convey to our readers?

Many of the existing activity trackers and applications on the market today are only the beginning of what is happening in this space. These initial products, especially the ones catered to sleep, don’t accurately measure what’s at the core to understanding where we spend ⅓ of our lives: brainwaves. Neurotechnology and brain tracking is going to open up entirely new possibilities in the world of tracking and we’re excited to be at the forefront of the movement.

Check out the product video.


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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

One thought on “Dreem headband monitors brain activity to help you sleep

  • this sounds a bit like the beginning of a dystopian sci fi film which goes on to show millions of users under the control of the headbands


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