Which would be more valuable to you, a wearable that reports about a condition or one that helps relieve it? Yeah, that’s what we think, too. We’ve written about sleep-tracking watches, rings, finger tip sensors, and more. Paris-based UrgoTech’s URGOnight sleep training system is not a biometric tracking sensor-based device. Instead, the system trains users to produce brainwaves associated with improved sleep.

The URGOnight system consists of an EEG headband and a mobile app. The headband has two dry measuring electrodes placed on the left and right mastoids. EEG data transmits to the app via Bluetooth in real-time. The user wears the headband and uses the app for 20-minute training sessions, five days a week. During the sessions the app presents a variety of simple neurofeedback games the user can control via sensory-motor rhythm (SMR) brainwaves. UrgoTech hypothesizes that strengthening SMR brainwaves reduces sleep problems. The app also includes questionnaires about sleep quality and offers advice on improving sleep based on cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia.

The Research Institute Brainclinics in the Netherlands conducted a clinical study of of the system for UrgoTech, from April 2019 to December 2020. This month the group published a preprint study report in the Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback Journal. The study included 37 patients with primary sleep problems but no psychiatric conditions associated with sleep difficulty. Among the test group, 21 subjects completed SMR neurofeedback training for 8 weeks (40 sessions) and 16 completed 12 weeks (60 sessions).

The study reports that two-thirds of the participants increased their sleep duration by an average of 57 minutes a night using URGOnight. The subjects reported sleep improvements after 20 sessions on average and in some cases after 10 sessions. Patients who completed 40 sessions reported their sleep improvement lasted for an average of three months after the training. Participant sleep satisfaction scores rose by an average of 85%.

Self-reported studies are a good start in many cases, but only a start. Further studies with more controls are required to support the validity and reliability of the initial study’s reported results. UrgoTech employees participated in running the tests and noted their conflict of interest in the study report. According to UrgoTech, further studies are ongoing including one with 50 patients in France in which the URGOnight system’s effectiveness is measured via polysomnography.

We’re enthusiastic about the plan for continued URGOnight testing and look forward to learning about the results of the additional studies. Wearable tech that goes beyond biometric reporting and analysis to improving health and wellness for common conditions such as sleep impairment is a development we await enthusiastically.