French neurotech company Dreem has released an updated version of its sleep-tracking headband, with a new, softer feel, improved audio quality and more flexible fit.
Poor sleep isn't something you should take lying down; it can result in serious health problems, including increased risk of dementia and heart attacks, disrupted hormones, and a weakened immune system. Dreem aims to solve this problem by identifying your particular sleep issues and coaching you to better habits.
Dreem has two parts: the headband itself, and its accompanying app, Dreem Coach. The headband gathers biometric data as you sleep, tracking your brain activity, heart rate and head movement. It's much more accurate than a smart watch – more like a sleep lab, but without having to spend the night in a strange bed with electrodes taped to your face.
This information is transmitted to Dreem Coach, which also asks you a series of questions about your sleeping patterns during the day, After seven nights it combines the biometric data with your survey answers to create a detailed sleep report just for you, with tailored recommendations.
These might be simple things that you can do to help unwind at night, but Dreem Coach can also offer advanced six or eight-week courses incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) if you're suffering chronic insomnia.
Any device you'll be wearing all night needs to be as comfortable as possible, so Dreem's engineers have paid great attention to making the new version of the headband softer and more flexible.
"We wanted to keep roughly the same design, so it is quite similar," Dreem CEO Hugo Mercier told TechRadar, "but we remade it from scratch, and we have made some changes to try to improve some elements for the user.
"First of all, we have increased the level of comfort for the product. What was quite hard with the Dreem headband was the fact that you need to have something that will fit everybody’s head – the size and shape – and at the same time you need to ensure that it has contact with the skin to ensure the electrodes are working and measuring the signal."
It was possible to make the electronic components a little smaller, but to actually make the band feel softer, the team had to think more creatively.
"In the previous version of the headband, the bridge of the headband had some rigidity [even though] it was quite bendable and quite soft," Mercier said. "We tried to find a way to innovate on that with the materials to try to take all the rigidity off. So when you feel the new headband, there is a great softness.
"All the electrodes and the cables are protected by foam, meaning that now it’s completely bendable, except for the bar, which isn’t a problem because it’s sitting on top of your head. So now the whole band is completely bendable, we redesigned the electrodes [and] we changed the material to make [it] even softer."
The headband is now more adjustable too. The previous version featured elastic at the back, but as Mercier explained, this wasn't always enough: "The thing is, you have a really, really wide range of size and shape for the head. So if you have a too big head, or too small head, the elastic is probably not enough. So we tried to open the elastic and add some kind of adjuster.
"It’s really simple – we have an S, M, L adjuster. You open it once when you use the headband, you can move it to three different places, and it improves the comfort. So when we compare the comfort between the previous version and version two, we have an improvement for 45% of our users, which is huge."
The Dreem Band doesn't just track your vitals; it can also help you drift off to sleep with gentle sound, and use pink noise at specific intervals to improve deep sleep. The second iteration of the headband offers improved audio quality to make this more effective
"We really re-worked the bone conduction technology," Mercier told us. "What we found was the fact that the sound is going through your skull and your bones, so you are limited by the mechanical properties of your head. But we reworked the technology as well in order to make it higher audio quality. Again, we have improved by 40% the audio quality."
Dreem has managed to achieve all this while also dropping the headband's price by €100 (about $110, £85, AU$160). The band is available to order now for €399 (about $450, £345, AU$640).
We'll be reviewing the Dreem 2 headband soon, so stay tuned to find out whether it helped us enjoy a better night's sleep.
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Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)