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Dreem Headband Tracks Sleep and Enhances Slow-Wave Sleep

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I keep meaning to a proper post on this, but have finally been stimulated to do something rather than continue to postpone a really thorough one.

The Dreem headband is an amazing device, both for the quality of its sleep tracking and for its function of enhancing slow-wave sleep; there's a ton of science on this kind of closed-loop auditory entrainment tech using systems built for experimental use by scientists that are not available as consumer devices, and some reports on the Dreem specifically:
(This one actually on the Dreem).
(This also on the Dreem, with additional unpublished data from their studies of users in the field).





PMIDs 25389394 28337134

(Some of the above links and PMIDs are probably redundant to eahc other; my apologies).

Slow-wave sleeep appears to be particularly important for clearing out beta-amyloid at night, although the route and mechanism continues to be debated.

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Thanks Michael. The Dreem looks interesting. [There is also a Philips SmartSleep headband with some similar functionality to at least part of that of the Dreem.]

In the links I didn't see anything addressing potential EMF risk from an ARM computer on the forehead overnight -- other than that WiFi and Bluetooth are disabled then.

On the web site, it is interesting to look under Support at the Technical help pages. There are 13 responses to issues apparently brought up by users.

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Thanks for posting, I had not heard of this device but now I want one!  Do you actually have one and if so, how long have you been using it and in what ways do you think it has benefitted you?  I'm wondering if you can get the EEG, respiration, and heart rate data off of the device?  (I'm thinking of possible uses in addition to its deep sleep improvement or sleep analysis features, to further justify the expense). 

Also wondering if the device is "open" for hacking/development, for example I see strong potential for use as a tool to gain consciousness while dreaming (i.e. "lucid dreaming") through auditory or visual cues when REM sleep is detected though EEG and/or heart rate (possible improvement over existing lucid dream masks).  I'll contact its manufacturer about my ideas...

Edited by Gordo
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Yeah, this definitely looks cool and like something I would love to try. It's a bit pricey for my budget, but we'll see.

One question I have is how loud it is. If this is sending auditory cues to you throughout the night, is it loud enough that it might bother a partner in the same bed? There is a lot of useful content on their website. I searched for an answer to this question but couldn't find one. The product videos make it look like it might be loud enough to bother someone else trying to sleep next to you.

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  • 1 month later...
On 10/14/2018 at 5:00 PM, Todd S said:

Thanks Michael. The Dreem looks interesting. [There is also a Philips SmartSleep headband with some similar functionality to at least part of that of the Dreem.]

Yeah, I actually got a free beta-test of the latter: it did a similar but qualitatively different job of subjectively improving the degree to which I felt refreshed by my sleep, but it was somewhat more of a PITA to use, as it has a wet electrode with partially-reusable pads, and it would now and then crap out on me in the middle of the night; also, it was a poor sleep tracker.

On 10/14/2018 at 5:00 PM, Todd S said:

In the links I didn't see anything addressing potential EMF risk from an ARM computer on the forehead overnight -- other than that WiFi and Bluetooth are disabled then.

I don't see any reason why they would address such an issue.

On 10/17/2018 at 6:50 AM, Gordo said:

Do you actually have one and if so, how long have you been using it and in what ways do you think it has benefitted you?

Actually the most important things it has clearly done for me are (a) to show me clearly that I wasn't going to bed when I tell myself I'm going to bed , thereby pushing me to actually go to bed on time (which probably even mickey-mouse trackers could've told me if I'd taken them as seriously — see (b)), and (b) to give me extremely satisfying sleep-tracking results in the morning.

It seems to increase the degree to which my sleep mentally refreshes me, tho' of course that's exactly the kind of thing most susceptible to placebo effects. Of course, I have no real way to know if it's improving my glymphatic system's functioning.

On 10/17/2018 at 6:50 AM, Gordo said:

I'm wondering if you can get the EEG, respiration, and heart rate data off of the device?  (I'm thinking of possible uses in addition to its deep sleep improvement or sleep analysis features, to further justify the expense). 

Also wondering if the device is "open" for hacking/development,

NOTA. Despite saying quite some time ago that it was in the cards, they haven't even integrated with Apple Health — my biggest annoyance.

On 10/17/2018 at 10:12 AM, Thomas G said:

One question I have is how loud it is. If this is sending auditory cues to you throughout the night, is it loud enough that it might bother a partner in the same bed?

It has some audible sound, but most of the sound and as I understand it all of the "pink noise" sounds that amplify your NREM slow waves use bone conduction.

On 11/19/2018 at 9:53 AM, mikeccolella said:

I respect Michael but he’s been wrong before on supplements like alpha lipoid acid. I looked into this and I’m smelling a scam here! The same kind of nonsense the supplement pushers have and continue to make profits on.

When I was expressing optimism about eg. LA (which I certainly never said was a sure thing), it was based on very preliminary research, in animals, and some very indirectly-relevant human work (diabetic neuropathy). Here we have multiple peer-reviewed human studies on the tech in general and two on the Dreem specifically. Do you have any evidence of a scam? If so, please post it; if not, please don't post unsubstantiated assertions.

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  • 1 month later...

FYI, 2nd generations of the Dreem and Philips sleep enhancing headbands announced/shown at CES this week:


...along with a new 3rd sleep enhancing headband called Urgonight from another French startup, this one interestingly designed to be used during the day in order to enhance slow-wave sleep at night. The USA Today article I happened upon didn't include references to scientific studies supporting the idea the way a post from Michael would. 🙂

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During the past few years I've attended workshops here at the University of Rochester on "Mindfulness Based Stress Release".  Each of them lasted for 6 or 8 weeks, meeting once a week, usually for 2 or 2.5 hours.  The subject title is a bit misleading; the sessions actually taught you and gave you practice in Mindfulness (being present in the moment) and Meditation practices.

Mindfulness has made my waking hours more enjoyable and productive; and occasionally I do spend some time in meditation.

The whole approach also helps with insomnia, and enjoying a better sleep.

There are several books by John Cabot Zinn on the subject; googling the name will get you a wealth of information on the subject.

   --  Saul

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  • 8 months later...

With a web search, you can find some reviews of the Dreem 2.

I think that the Dreem 1 was a great product except for the discomfort -- for a mostly side sleeper like me, at least.

I ordered the Dreem 2 -- after exchanging some messages with Dreem support about the changes. The Dreem 2 is touted as much more comfortable than the Dreem 1, but the deep brain stimulation feature is disabled with the Dreem 2 in the U.S. market. [It still works with the Dreem 1 -- and with the Dreem 2 in the European market.] The Dreem 2 is a registered medical device. The stimulation feature apparently didn't meet the FDA standards for proof of efficacy.

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I'm with Gordo. The difference for me, is that I actually take regulatory clearances from the FDA seriously. The fact that the FDA didn't think deep brain stimulation was up to par puts a serious kink in the hype around this - studies or not. And if the argument is that the FDA is all wet and the benefits of deep brain stimulation as done by Dreem are real, then the fact that it's not available in Dreem 2.0 seems like a fail. Either way, it fails. 

Perhaps one day this will fulfill its potential, but until then, it falls into the category I'll never tire of denouncing: "Hype, hype and more hype, Amen". And I'm particularly susceptible to hype from these kinds of devices, because I suspect that my sleep is suboptimal or even poor and I have seemingly so little control over it despite following all the usual recommendations. In other words, I'm what's called a "motivated mark" - I should be a pushover for these peddlers, yet here I am not buying into it at all. And the cost is the least of it, if I could improve my sleep, $500 is nothing, I'd gladly spend multiples of that. But the caveat is, it has to work - I'm not ineterested in empty hype. YMMV. 

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Tomb, but, putting aside the pink noise deep sleep enhancer, just the fact that we have at disposal an accurate nighttime EEG which provides us with a polysomnography every night is, in a sense worth a lot. Providing, of course, the measurements are reasonably accurate. I seem to have similar problems to yours, very fragmented sleep. But I don't know how much of it is actually deep, slow waves, stage IV sleep. If it turned out that deep sleep is little, then I should do my utmost to improve it changing other habits, such as not eating at night, not watching screens and so on. The pink noise gadget is just a potential additional benefit. 

So, the question we should pose is perhaps:  Does the dreem2 device provide a reasonably accurate measurement of our sleep phases or not?

In other words, do we have a reliable polysomnogram every night?

AFAIK It doesn't claim to cure us of sleep problems, it just claims to quantify parameters in such a way that we can identify our problems and take action.

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Yeah, how reliable/accurate it is, is one question. But I take issue with the measurement itself. Of what use is this data to me? First, what does it even mean, and second, unless I can influence it, it really doesn't matter, does it? I had a funny conversation with my PCP many years ago. I wanted him to measure some of the small fractions of intermediate LDL particles and so on. He made the very sensible point that at present we don't actually have very good information on what the number would even represent healthwise, but much more importantly, there is no particular way in which we can impact that number, so why measure it?

I have the same issue with this. I guess I am far more skeptical of all what we supposedly know about sleep - I just don't think any of the studies that I took a look at conclusively prove what impact any given phase of sleep has and what is optimal for any person given their unique and particular physiological situation. Sorry, but just because someone speaks with a great deal of confidence (see: Walker and his relentless promotion of his book), doesn't mean he is right. 

So you are measuring a bunch of things you have no real idea what the meaning of is. What is optimal REM time? In what cycles? How many a night? What about other factors, like what if there's this and that pattern that's optimal depending on what your diet and exercise and supplements and pharmaceutical and psychological state is? It's all in dynamic interaction, and what may be true for you may not be for me. Again - We Do Not Know. The science just plainly isn't there.

Therefore even if you are measuring accurately, what do those numbers mean? We Do Not Know.

And if we knew - can we impact those numbers? I don't know how, and I defy anyone to prove to me otherwise. I know, because I've tried to control my sleep with dismal results, as in - I can't. I can control what I put in my mouth (diet), and how much and in what way I exercise, and lifestyle factors, and drugs/supplements. But I have not found a way to control my sleep.

And if I can't control my sleep, what good is that data to me, even if I trusted what it supposedly means?

This device - IMHO - is nowhere near ready for prime time, at least as far as I'd apply it myself.

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On 9/14/2019 at 2:13 PM, Todd S said:

Hi Mike,

I don't know what your expectations for the Dreem 1 were, but mine were for it to provide objective information that would be useful in evaluating the results of self-experiments on factors that might affect my sleep. It does provide that.

Yes I agree that is what they claim. I was surprised that I had above average deep sleep according to their analysis, but I’m skeptical. I don’t  often feel particularly rested, unlike 10 years ago and more, and that held true when they claimed I was getting above average deep sleep. 

Edited by mikeccolella
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If you go to dreem.com/en/research near the bottom of the page it lists Scientific papers & publications. These page include:

The Dreem Headband as an Alternative to Polysomnography for EEG Signal Acquisition and Sleep Staging

Pierrick J. Arnal1,􏰀, Valentin Thorey2, Michael E. Ballard1, Albert Bou Hernandez2, Antoine Guillot2, Hugo Jourde2, Mason Harris2, Mathias Guillard3, Pascal Van Beers3, Mounir Chennaoui3, and Fabien Sauvet3

1Dreem, Science Team, New York, USA

2Dreem, Algorithm Team, Paris, France
3French Armed Forces Biomedical Research Institute (IRBA), Fatigue and Vigilance Unit, Bretigny sur Orge, France; EA 7330 VIFASOM, Paris Descartes University, Paris, France


Despite the central role of sleep in our lives and the high prevalence of sleep disorders, sleep is still poorly understood. The development of ambulatory technologies capable of monitoring brain activity during sleep longitudinally is critical to advancing sleep science and facilitating the diagnosis of sleep disorders. We introduced the Dreem headband (DH) as an affordable, comfortable, and user-friendly alternative to polysomnography (PSG). The purpose of this study was to assess the signal acquisition of the DH and the performance of its embedded automatic sleep staging algorithms compared to the gold-standard clinical PSG scored by 5 sleep experts. Thirty-one subjects completed an over-night sleep study at a sleep center while wearing both a PSG and the DH simultaneously. We assessed 1) the EEG signal quality between the DH and the PSG, 2) the heart rate, breathing frequency, and respiration rate variability (RRV) agreement between the DH and the PSG, and 3) the performance of the DH’s automatic sleep staging according to AASM guidelines vs. PSG sleep experts manual scoring. Results demonstrate a strong correlation between the EEG signals acquired by the DH and those from the PSG, and the signals acquired by the DH enable monitoring of alpha (r= 0.71 ± 0.13), beta (r= 0.71 ± 0.18), delta (r = 0.76 ± 0.14), and theta (r = 0.61 ± 0.12) frequencies during sleep. The mean absolute error for heart rate, breathing frequency and RRV was 1.2 ± 0.5 bpm, 0.3 ± 0.2 cpm and 3.2 ± 0.6 %, respectively. Automatic Sleep Staging reached an overall accuracy of 83.5 ± 6.4% (F1 score : 83.8 ± 6.3) for the DH to be compared with an average of 86.4 ± 8.0% (F1 score: 86.3 ± 7.4) for the five sleep experts. These results demonstrate the capacity of the DH to both precisely monitor sleep-related physiological signals and process them accurately into sleep stages. This device paves the way for high-quality, large-scale, longitudinal sleep studies.


-- and with a negative review comment as follows:

Castalia Francon 2 months ago

Unfortunately the DREEM people do not reveal exactly how precise or nuanced EEG signal they measure, in terms of the architecture of the different periods.

The EEG technology used in a typical sleep lab is many decades old and often of little use in understanding the specifics, for example in a nonREM period that would indicates, "spindles" or 'ripples" or gamma waves" or do any analysis on the meaning of the different patterns other some unspecified pattern exists.

For those wishing to know nothing more than a crude EEG sleep lab overnight would provide the DREEM seems useless. The few studies on memory enhancement, etc are not convincing and apparently without basis in their assumptions.

But if you want to time travel back to the technology of a few decades ago and feel good about that, well what's another $500..??? ;0

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Just a few extemporary objections:

  1. can we base our conclusions on a single negative (or positive) review?
  2. What's the technical expertise of the reviewer?
  3. How founded are the remarks in that review?
  4. Are the Dreem2 results that obsolete as data structure compared to state of the art polysomograms? 
  5. Any rebuttals to that review?


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Hi mccoy,

I included that negative comment for TomB's enjoyment -- and the possibility that he'd run across it himself anyway (if he followed up by looking at the web site that I pointed to). At the time I looked, that was the only comment posted. I didn't attempt to do any searches to get information about the reviewer. I thought it was a poorly crafted comment.

That negative comment seems irrelevant to my already expressed expectations for the Dreem 2. If the device is indeed sufficiently more comfortable than the Dreem 1, then I'll have good use for it.

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Michael Rae's post that started this thread provided a pretty long list of links that look pretty scientifically respectable. That post by itself seems to disagree with any claim that this is all hype hype hype.

I come at this with default skepticism about the therapeutic effects and view those as just bonus if they do exist. To me this is the long-awaited successor to the Zeo headband, the first sleep measuring device that actually had EEG. This and its Philips competitor (which seems to require regularly replacing something consumable and thus seems less desirable to me) are the first sleep things that can potentially do a reasonable job at sleep phase classification. After a big analysis of all the best sleep things on the market a couple years ago, including taking 2 of the same model of one of the best devices and measuring them against each other) I concluded that movement + pulse and the other things one gets easily from wrist-based on under-mattress type sensors are just not going to be able to classify sleep phases accurately. I default assume that this will be more accurate than the Oura ring, any watch, or any ballistocardiography device. I think this is a reasonable default position until data says otherwise (rather than requiring data to prove this).

Even if it's not perfect and classifying deep vs. shallow vs REM perfectly, the EEG should mean it is better at hitting sleep vs wake than the other categories of device.

Why is good passive recoding of sleep important without therapeutic effect? Because there are dozens of known ways to influence sleep quality (blue-light blocking glasses, get bright light during the day, don't eat late, keep bedroom dark, keep bedroom cool, just go to bed earlier, etc.---just Google sleep hygiene, or if more time read Why We Sleep by Walker). A tool to measure how you are doing and track that over the years as you age and sleep quality naturally gets worse with age is useful to help dose doing all of these things.


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