A calming snippet of sound to help you drift off again
If you struggle with restless sleep, there’s a new solution: a soft headband that detects when you wake and gives you a ‘digital sleeping pill’ in the form of a calming audio snippet to help ease you back to sleep.
The Muse S (Gen 2) is a new version of the original Muse S headband that we reviewed last year. It’s a sleep tracker and meditation aid containing a row of sensors that sit against your forehead, where they detect brain activity.
This data is transmitted to the Muse smartphone app via Bluetooth, where it’s used to guide you through various meditation sessions during the day (with real-time feedback based on movements or your mind wandering), and to ease you off to sleep at night.
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The Muse app offers various options to help you wind down at bedtime including sleep stories with voice narration of new and classic tales, ambient sleep soundscapes with soothing audio and narration, and (most interestingly) biofeedback soundscapes that change in response to your brain activity.
Unlike sleep apps and white noise machines that either run all night or on a timer, the Muse S detects changes in your brain activity as you start to drift off, and automatically fades out the audio accordingly.
The second-generation headband uses the same tech if it detects restlessness at night, playing a soothing audio clip to settle you back down. The sound gently quietens down again once you’re asleep.
Soft and comfortable
The second-gen Muse S also has improved battery life with faster charging, improved signal quality for better data accuracy, and improved fit for a wider range of head sizes. This should address one of our main concerns with the original model, which took our reviewer a while to get used to, and could occasionally be knocked out of position during the night.
It’s not the cheapest sleep aid around, though. The second-gen device is now available for $399.99 (about £290 / AU$530) direct from Muse, and will be listed on Amazon in North America in early 2022.
If you’ve already invested in the first-gen Muse S, don’t worry; you’ll get access to the digital sleeping pill feature free with a firmware update in December this year.
Analysis: how tech can relieve ‘coronasomnia’
The second-gen Muse S headband is one tool to help you get a better night’s sleep, but there are lots of others to check out as well. In fact, sleep technology is booming right now, and for good reason.
As the Sleep Foundation reports, ‘coronasomnia’ is a new term that describes sleep disturbances caused specifically by the coronavirus pandemic. Whether it’s disruption to daily life, anxiety about the virus, or depression and isolation, there are lots of reasons why many of us are struggling to get a good night’s rest.
Tech companies have been quick to respond. Fitbit has rolled out a series of mindfulness sessions led by meditation expert Deepak Chopra, and both the Fitbit Sense and Charge 5 fitness trackers are equipped with stress-monitoring sensors.
Sports watches from the likes of Garmin offer advanced sleep tracking and remind wearers to keep a record of their feelings, Apple Fitness Plus launched last year with guided meditations alongside workouts, and the recently announced Amazon Halo Fitness service includes advanced sleep metrics for Halo View wearers.
If you’re on a tight budget, it’s also worth taking a look at the wide range of sleep apps available, many of which are very affordable, or even free.
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