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Building a sleep reference solution: we talk to Dreem CEO Hugo Mercier | Tech & Gadgets

Dreem CEO and co-founder Hugo Mercier
Jeff Mann catches up with Dreem CEO, Hugo Mercier to talk concerning the new Dreem Coach software, and the way the corporate has advanced since launching its superior EEG sleep wearable in 2017

In 2014, two college students of France’s most prestigious engineering faculty, Ecole Polytechnique, launched into an thrilling new enterprise.

Impressed by current discoveries in neuroscience, they shaped a new sleep know-how startup which, they hoped would construct the world’s greatest shopper sleep wearable.

4 years later, the dorm-room challenge has expanded to 80 staff, secured over $60 million of funding, and boasts a few of the world’s main sleep specialists as scientific advisors.

So, in a nascent and risky sleep know-how business, affected by failed ventures, what precisely went proper with Dreem?

I interviewed Dreem CEO Hugo Mercier on the business launch of their headband, so I caught up once more with the co-founder by way of Skype to talk concerning the journey up to now, the brand new Dreem Coach app, the Dreem library of audio-based therapeutic methods, which the corporate hopes will place them to be the ‘reference solution for bad sleep’.

Dreem CEO and co-founder Hugo Mercier
Hugo Mercier Dreem CEO and co-founder

This interview has been edited for brevity and readability. To study extra about Dreem, learn our 2017 interview right here.

Dreem, the elevator pitch

Jeff Mann (JM): To anybody who’s not conscious, are you able to clarify very briefly the idea behind Dreem and the way it differs to different sleep merchandise and applied sciences.

Hugo Mercier (HM):  The Dreem band is a headband to put on at night time measuring your physiological exercise, which means coronary heart price, respiration frequency,  mind exercise and motion.

Immediately the Dreem Band is probably the most correct answer that you will discover for the buyer or to measure and analyse sleep. To make that work we began with the laboratory gear referred to as the PSG, the polysomnograph or the electroencephalograph (EEG) and we made a model that works that works out of your bed room.

We began the corporate with a scientific discovery. We discovered that by triggering audio stimulations to the mind, at very particular moments of mind exercise, we have been truly in a position to improve your high quality of deep sleep, which is among the most crucial levels at night time for restoration.

The evolution of the Dreem headbandSo the imaginative and prescient that we have with the corporate is to construct the primary reference answer to dangerous sleep, which is noninvasive, environment friendly, and full sufficient to cowl all instances of dangerous sleep.

What impressed the Dreem headband?

JM: What was the unique motivation to construct a hardware system to tackle the issue of dangerous sleep?

HM: Once I began the corporate I understood that sleep was a actually widespread drawback. You could have greater than a third of the inhabitants not sleeping properly. And in entrance of that, the options present at this time are usually not actually good or going far sufficient.

So for those who go and talk about your poor sleep to your basic practitioner he’s going to say take sleeping tablets, which isn’t good on your well being and which isn’t tailored to most of dangerous sleep instances.

Then you have got sleep docs and sleep specialists. However within the nation the place we created the corporate, in France, you will have in all probability 20 or 30 sleep specialists, which isn’t sufficient for, you recognize, 10 or 15 million French individuals affected by dangerous sleep.

And eventually you go and look on-line and you discover all of the sleep know-how options, and what we came upon, is a lot of the options are solely doing monitoring.

The evolution of the Dreem headband
The evolution of the Dreem headband

However most of them will not be actually correct as a result of in the event you actually need to perceive how sleep works, you want to perceive how your mind works at night time. So we want to have a measurement of your mind exercise, coronary heart fee, respiration frequency and motion – motion just isn’t sufficient.

And so finally [these products] are usually not environment friendly sufficient to provide help to sleep higher. And so we began with this concept of proposing deep sleep stimulation to customers to improve the standard of deep sleep and so to optimize the standard of their sleep in a noninvasive method.

We’ve got finished a lot in 4 years. We now have developed three iterations of the product. We’ve got 600,000 nights in our database, which is among the largest EEG repositories in historical past. We have now 25 patents on the entire know-how and we have 25 laboratories and hospitals working with us.

And we have a lot of sleep specialists working with us so we have recognized within the scientific literature what are the fascinating ideas and strategies that we can implement in our product.

The primary pillar of the answer is the Dreem band that you simply put on at night time. So we began with this concept of stimulating the mind with sounds, to improve deep sleep, however then we added new options to concentrate on different essential moments of your day or your night time.

We have now developed a vary of audio packages to make it easier to go to sleep quicker initially of the night time. So they’re coming from ideas in biofeedback and neuro-feedback. Principally, it’s to show you how to go to sleep quicker and loosen up earlier than going to mattress. So we have the deep stimulation, we have a sensible alarm clock on the finish of the night time, for waking up on the optimum time.

JM: You’ve just lately launched a new set of options that construct on the capabilities of the Dreem band that make use of latest software program purposes you’ve developed?

HM:  About a yr in the past, we understood that what we have is principally a good way to measure your mind exercise, probably the most correct one.

However then we understood that for particular instances of dangerous sleep, for instance, individuals affected by insomnia for 5 months, a yr, 10 years, 5 years, they’re additionally constructing some sort of psychological obstacles and psychological locks.

And so it appeared to us that one of many largest subjects that we ought to tackle as nicely have been the behavioural, and the psychological elements of dangerous sleep.

In order that’s why we utterly redesigned the cellular app. Now it’s referred to as the Dreem Coach as a result of the imaginative and prescient for the app was actually to construct a private sleep companion. Somebody that may interact you from the very starting by understanding what sort of issues do you’ve got, what are the sources of your issues, after which actually allow you to in utilizing these instruments.

What’s the Dreem Coach?

JM: So who’s the Dreem Coach for and what sorts of sleep issues does it handle?

HM: We’ve constructed the Dreem library of packages as a result of we consider that you’ve in your life, you’ll have a number of steps and levels and durations of time the place your [sleep] issues can be totally different.

So it could possibly be since you’re pregnant. It could possibly be since you’re a younger mother or father. It could possibly be since you’re touring a lot and also you’re jet lagged. It could possibly be since you’re working a lot. It might be since you’re a shift employee or it might be that you’ve developed continual insomnia.

And so the thought was to construct some thematic packages that you would use based mostly in your wants.

So the Dreem methods actually cowl 24 hours, so napping, rest, you’ve options to assist you go to sleep quicker, you have got deep sleep stimulation and you’ve got the sensible alarm clock, these are the instruments we have been engaged on prior to now 4 years. 

The last word power-nap device?

JM: So how does the napping function work?

HM: So say, for instance, I’ve solely 30 minute for a nap and we’ll wake you up on the optimum time so that you simply don’t fall into deep sleep and don’t really feel drained if you get up.

JM: So is there some suggestions course of happening with regards to detecting whenever you may be getting into deep sleep?

HM: Sure we can see very precisely the info, so once you’re about to enter deep sleep, your mind is producing sure brainwaves that we name sleep spindles and Okay- complexes.

So when we detect that we know that you simply’re in all probability going to enter into deep sleep  the scarf is in a position to wake you up right now, as a result of should you fall into a deep sleep, then you definitely’re going to have sleep inertia for 30 minutes to an hour. And in order that nap just isn’t that helpful.

Meditation and rest

HM: So yeah it’s a fairly great way to optimizing the period of naps and the product can also be proposing some rest methods in the course of the day.

So there are a lot of apps to do meditation or rest or respiration train through the day. However the [Dreem] product provides a essential layer which is your physiological knowledge as a result of the scarf is in a position to measure in actual time, your coronary heart fee, your respiration frequency, and your mind exercise.

It will probably let you already know what impact, the session of meditating or respiration train had in your physiological knowledge. And it’s essential as a result of if you would like to enhance and chill out higher, we want to perceive the output in your physique.


JM: I’ve additionally seen you’ve gotten a curious function that’s based mostly on enjoying again random phrases to assist customers go to sleep?

HM: Yeah so we truly discovered the thought it from a Canadian sleep researcher.

One of many fundamental issues that forestall individuals from falling asleep is as a result of they’ve cycles of dangerous considering and dangerous ideas. And [according to the research] you possibly can simply distract individuals from these ideas by enjoying phrases. And so we stated, ah it’s fascinating. 

So, at first you could have phrases which is sensible – you ask the consumer to image a scene, like a solar, so that you’re simply seeing a seashore or one thing like that.

After which when we see that the eye is sweet and [the user is] falling asleep we begin to play some  random phrases. So whenever you go to sleep, you’ve gotten this sense that you simply’re already a bit dreamy and also you’re excited about bizarre stuff and also you’re making some bizarre associations and so we needed to recreate that through the use of phrases.

So that is our function referred to as Cognition, and we are coaching a bunch of stuff as a result of I feel that you simply don’t have one answer matches all.

So perhaps you’re going to go to sleep since you pay attention to poetry or pay attention to a podcast. Another person will go to sleep as a result of he hears random phrases. Another person will go to sleep as a result of he’s doing respiration workouts, another person goes to do meditation, and so on and so forth.

So we try to construct instruments, perceive on which consumer it really works, after which attempt to advocate to the consumer the device that they need to use.

Dreem and CBT

JM: Are you able to clarify extra concerning the Dreem CBT program?

HM: So the one huge program that we have developed now’s the Dreem cognitive behavioral remedy program, our CBT program. I don’t know for those who’re conscious, however on the World Well being Group, the reference remedy for insomnia is CBT. It’s not sleeping tablets it’s CBT.

At this time’s CBT is often carried out by a bodily individual that you simply meet as soon as each week for six to eight weeks. And the aim will probably be to actually educate in your sleep, educate in your perceptions round sleep, break some dangerous habits, and in addition do some workouts like pressured privation the place you’re suggested to go to mattress late as a result of in case you’re going to mattress too early you then’re going to situation your mind to say once I’m in mattress I’m, not sleeping.

JM: So that is sleep restriction, you’re speaking about?

HM: Sure, which may appear type of paradoxical, however truly it’s actually helpful as a result of it’s educates you and the mind – that whenever you go to your mattress you sleep.

And so all these ideas are underneath the package deal of CBT. And it may be carried out with a skilled. Additionally, you’ve gotten some purposes that do it in a digital method like Sleepio for instance.

Dreem vs different digital CBT options

JM: So how does Dreem’s CBT implementation differ from Sleepio and different digital CBT packages?

HM: So to begin with I would like to point out that Sleepio is a nice firm they usually have been constructing a nice product they usually have been actually good at executing on the technique and stuff like that.

The outcomes on Sleepio are actually good. Like, you’ll be able to scale back your sleep onset latency, by 50 %. You’ll be able to scale back night time awakenings by 50%. However that is true solely on the 40 or 50 % of customers that did this system. And so it means that you’ve 50 or 60 % of different individuals that aren’t going to full the entire program.

And so we launched the Dreem CBT program six months in the past and what we have seen is we have a a lot greater retention price. In our case, because it’s related to the Dreem headband, individuals actually belief us and are far more engaged, for now we have 99.zero % of all customers that began our CBT program have ended [it].

And so the rationale behind it’s that Sleepio, just isn’t actually individualized, it shouldn’t be measuring any enter out of your physiological knowledge.

So having the Dreem band makes individuals belief what we do, as a result of we say [for example] ‘your problem is you’re going to mattress at eight, however you’re sleeping at 11. Truly you’ve gotten a fairly good quantity of sleep however your sleep effectivity is basically poor.’  So by displaying the info, displaying the outcomes, it makes it far more partaking as a result of individuals belief us.

JM: So primarily by offering correct physiological knowledge from the Dreem band, your customers are in a position to get immediate suggestions on their CBT progress, and are therefore extra possible to keep it up this system till completion?

HM: So that is one factor and the second factor is in CBT we have additionally some workouts. We’re going to train you about enjoyable at night time, rituals you are able to do, habits that you are able to do, and the scarf can instantly allow you to so that you’re not alone.

If we say simply breath in breath out, do this train, it might show you how to at night time and once you go in your mattress and also you’re simply interested by all these dangerous concepts, like I gained’t give you the chance to sleep, having the voice from Dreem, serving to you, guiding you after which seeing the leads to the morning is admittedly highly effective.

Evolving from a hardware-only firm

JM: So it appears that evidently there’s been a little pivot away from the unique idea, as a lot of the main target was initially on the hardware, however the firm appears to have advanced into extra of a platform now?

HM: Yeah, undoubtedly. I feel it’s a very, excellent query. So we didn’t pivot, however we constructed extra precisely the product imaginative and prescient.

So we knew from day one and a lot of individuals have been telling us, should you’re not sleeping nicely, you’re not going to sleep with a headband in your head, however our imaginative and prescient presently was if you need to construct an environment friendly sleep answer, you want a answer that might be personalised and individualized.

And the one method of understanding that’s by measuring your mind exercise. So it was one of many core concepts at the start. And so we developed the Dreem band.

And now we see that it’s particularly helpful for CBT, for stimulation, for all the things else, however if in case you have somebody that has had  insomnia for 10, 15 years, simply doing stimulation shouldn’t be going to clear up the issue.

So what else can we do? And so we began to construct this type of device after which by, by constructing the instruments, we stated we want to show you how to use the software, so let’s do the coach.

And so yeah, undoubtedly I feel the hardware can be all the time be enabling every thing. It’s actually like the idea of our pyramid of options. It’s enabling the whole lot. However undoubtedly what we’re providing right here, it’s a type of service. And in addition I feel the enterprise mannequin ought to evolve.

We will’t reduce the price of the product as a result of the product is dear to make as a result of it’s utilizing state-of-the-art applied sciences. However we can invite new new enterprise fashions and new methods of utilizing the product that’s extra aligned with everybody’s wants.

The ‘bad sleep map’ – options for each sleep drawback

HM: So you’ll be able to have simply somebody about his sleep, simply needs to attempt to perceive his sleep and simply by understanding the knowledge he’ll sleep higher.

Or you’ve got somebody who has robust, insomnia, wants actual help and a actual program for eight, 10 weeks. Or you possibly can have somebody that has no sleep drawback however they produce other pathologies which are impacting the sleep high quality, perhaps this individual has sleep apnea and she or he doesn’t know. And so perhaps you’ll be able to let her know.

So what we did is, we have 600,000 nights in our database, which is among the largest EEG repository in historical past. And so we actually labored on a dangerous sleep map.

So now we consider that we might help 85 % of dangerous sleep. Some instances like narcolepsy would require some type of chemical remedy which is restricted to the illness, however for the remaining we consider we shall be in a position to clear up the whole lot.

That’s the place we made the imaginative and prescient of the product evolve and we need to be a actual sleep reference answer that anybody around the globe complaining about fatigue, tiredness and sleep can use the product, perceive the issue, after which add the appropriate answer within the portfolio or the platform of options.

Digital well being and past

JM: It’s clear there have to be alot of different choices for Dreem, aside from promoting instantly to the buyer market. How does Dreem match into the broader world of digital well being, or as a B2B product?

HM: So for me, one of the best methods for the enterprise mannequin of the corporate is one of the best technique from a product and consumer perspective.

Lots of people all the time ask me, are you a medical firm or your shopper firm? I say, I don’t care. What I care about is, should you’re somebody who just isn’t sleeping, can you discover a answer through the use of the product?

So then you’ve gotten the enterprise mannequin, proper? As a result of a €500 euros is an costly product. So we can consider that perhaps by assembly some sort of FDA approval or CE mark in Europe, [users] can probably get reimbursement from insurance coverage, and so on.

I feel that is lengthy and I feel a lot of corporations are doing that as a result of shopper is tough. However I consider that there’s a shopper market and individuals are prepared to pay for his or her sleep, however once more, they want discover worth in what they pay.

And so once more, for somebody sleeping, you realize, somebody has insomnia, they shouldn’t pay the identical worth. So the reply, about that’s sure, we are wanting on the FDA taking a look at CE marking, however we want to have a true, additional advantage for the consumer.

It wants to match with the corporate technique. However proper now I consider that by first specializing in making the enterprise mannequin evolve, we can nonetheless repair a lot of issues.

It’s clear that Dreem is just on the very starting of what they hope to be a lengthy journey to create the world’s first ‘reference solution for sleep’. In contrast to lots of their friends within the sleep know-how, the corporate has a lot of going for it. Not solely is it probably the most superior sleep wearable available on the market, the product is predicated years of analysis and has the backing of some heavyweight scientific advisors.

However maybe what makes the distinction with Dreem is their complete technique to turn into a platform to deal with sleep issues throughout the board, interesting to the burgeoning sleep wellness market, in addition to the huge potential for brand spanking new sleep options in digital well being.

I’m positive we will probably be listening to tons extra from Dreem in 2019 and past.

This interview was first revealed at our sister website SleepGadgets.io

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