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Could a Headband and an App Help Tackle Insomnia?
Images provided by Dreem

Could a Headband and an App Help Tackle Insomnia?

Dreem 2 combines hardware and software to offer sleep tracking and insomnia treatment.

With insomnia being a common complaint, it’s no surprise that sleep tracking is popping up in today’s wellness apps and wearables. But Vik Panda, managing director, North America, for Dreem, questions the accuracy of “wrist-worn” sleep trackers, as tracking brain activity is the established, scientific means of measuring sleep.

Dreem has developed a combined hardware/software solution to offer patients a tool for tracking sleep activity at home along with a potential means of insomnia treatment. Panda said that Dreem 2 is a wearable headband that is an FDA class II medical device and is equipped with five EEG sensors, one pulse oximeter, and one accelerometer that all work together to measure sleep activity and various stages of sleep. The device also delivers sound vibrations through bone conduction to ease patients to sleep, and a digital app guides patients through a coaching program inspired by cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI), which Panda says is the only recognized approach for treating insomnia.

Describing Dreem 2 as a “lab-grade, lab-quality” tool, Panda said that the company’s “goal is to be the leader in screening, diagnosing, and treatment for sleep disorders. We want to arm patients with the tools and knowledge to improve sleep.” The company has raised $60 million from investors, including Johnson & Johnson and Bpifrance, and added four neuroscientists to its scientific advisory board to help it gain a foothold in treating insomnia, he said. It is also eyeing future opportunities to treat other conditions such as sleep apnea.

Above: The Dreem 2 wearable headband incorporates five EEG sensors, one pulse oximeter, and one accelerometer for measuring sleep activity.

For such scientific sleep analysis, patients currently would have to go to “a sleep clinic, which can be inconvenient, and it’s annoying to wear 30 electrodes,” he said.

It can also be a challenge for patients to be prescribed such a sleep study, he added, as doctors often start with “a simple solution—a prescription medication—and then if that doesn’t help, patients are referred to a sleep clinic.”

Dreem 2 is best used in conjunction with a physician, Panda emphasized. “We would work with primary care doctors and be a part of their first response instead of sleeping pills, and we would work with sleep clinics to help elevate their level of patient care,” he explained. “Every patient gets a seven-day sleep assessment before given the ability to enroll in the digital coaching program.”

Dreem 2 draws from real-world feedback and data collected from consumers who used Dreem’s beta version headband in the Dreem First Program in September 2016 and then later from users who have been tracking sleep with the consumer-grade Dreem 1 in its Adventurers Program. “We get a lot of feedback, and we iterate for the best possible experience and solution,” Panda explained.

More than 800,000 nights of sleep have been recorded, and evidence collected to date has shown that Dreem 2’s EEG sensors and software track and record sleep activity as accurately polysomnography, Panda said.

For treatment, sound is delivered through bone conduction, which Panda said is an older established technology that isn’t widely adopted yet is effective in promoting sleep quality. Sounds adapt to users’ sleep stages to avoid any disturbances. “Users can also set a window of time for an alarm, so it won’t go off if the user is in deep sleep,” he said.

CBTI, guided meditation, video coaching, and other functions are provided through the app, which also collects all sleep data to provide to doctors at a later date. Data is synched from the headband to the app when users recharge the band after a night’s sleep, so Bluetooth or wifi won’t be active during sleep.

The headband is adjustable for small, medium, and large sizes. 

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