Insomnia, as anyone who has experienced it in either patches or more consistently, is debilitating. Not only do you have to get through your day as normal despite a lack of sleep but you are also denied the restful pleasure of being asleep. Is there anything more frustrating than lying in bed neither being productive nor resting? It’s no wonder that at some point anything seems like a better option than a nightly battle of wills with a brain that just can’t relax into sleep. Nobody wants to take sleeping pills but many do as a last resort. The danger of then becoming either psychologically or even physically reliant on pharmaceutical sleep inducers is well documented.
It is also well documented that the array of tech that has infiltrated our daily lives does little to help the process of relaxing into an easy slumber at the end of the day. But never fear, there may now, perhaps ironically, be a tech solution on hand. A sleep-tech start-up that substitutes sleeping pills for a brain-stimulating headband has just secured £26 million worth of funding from a round led by the venture unit of Johnson&Johnson.
Dreem, the company behind the headsets, had already successfully raised over £16.5 in Series A investment. The headband employs the latest technology in the world of electroencephalogram equipment (EEG). EEG involves placing electrodes on the scalp to read brain activity. Based on that activity, the Dreem headset emits sounds which it claims aid the wearer’s sleep. Founder Huge Mercier won initial backing from French billionaire investor Xavier Niel, insurance company MAIF and biotech entrepreneur Dr. Laurent Alexandre.
The headset, which retails at £500, doesn’t claim to be a ‘magic bullet’ for insomnia but hopes to provide a viable alternative to sleeping pills for users. Clinical research around EEG, sound signals stimulating the brain and the science of sleep more generally, is still at a formative stage. However, Dreem believes that the data set it will compile from users and additional research funded by the recent Series B investment round, will accelerate understanding of the field.
Regardless of the effectiveness of the headband in its current form, which presumably shows promise to have earned such significant backing, the pool of anonymised sleep pattern data the devices will collect will be valuable.
Johnson&Johnson, which is growing the unit which makes personal health and medical devices, has a growing interest in sleep-tech and also recently invested in baby sleep app Rest.