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How To Take Care Of Your Sleep And Transform Your Life W/ Hugo Mercier

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How To Take Care Of Your Sleep And Transform Your Life W/ Hugo Mercier
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“Taking care of your sleep will be a transformative journey.”

Greetings, SuperFriends!

Today we are joined by Hugo Mercier, the CEO and co-founder of Dreem, a leading digital therapeutic for sleep disorders. Hugo has led his business through the development of the company’s solution – the Dreem 2 headband -, which I recently got a chance to try out and was blown away by so much, that I wanted to have Hugo on the show to learn how they managed to build a sleep lab that you can buy and use at home to improve your sleep.

Hugo is a graduate of my Alma mater, UC Berkeley, and the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris where he studied engineering and entrepreneurship. He's also been honored with all kinds of awards for being an innovator and all different kinds of awesome influential persons awards. He's even spoken at amazing events such as Slush Web, Summit, TEDx, and more.

Now, I really enjoyed this episode and I think you will very quickly see why. I know we have done a lot of episodes on sleep, but I have never had a chance to talk to someone who works with literally a dozen of the world's top sleep researchers one-on-one, and who is constantly spending his entire day analyzing sleep research and figuring out how we can practically make people's sleep better.

I learned things about sleep and that says a lot because I have done a lot of thinking, interviewing, and reading about sleep. So, I know you're going to enjoy this episode!

-Jonathan Levi

Two girls wearing BluBlox glasses next to the BluBlox logo

This episode is brought to you by BluBlox. Click here to save 15% on their amazing blue-blocking glasses, for all orders placed on their website, by adding coupon code SUPERHUMAN at checkout!

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Who is Hugo Mercier, what does he do, and how did he get here? [4:50]
  • What are the real consequences when we don't sleep well? [9:30]
  • What does “enough sleep” actually mean? [18:55]
  • What percentage of sleep should be REM sleep? [21:00]
  • What's the difference between Dreem and a sleep lab? [26:20]
  • How are Dreem's recommendations being generated, and how does it work? [30:00]
  • The difference that good sleep and waking up refreshed can make in your life [37:30]
  • What are some things that Hugo does to perform at his highest level? [41:10]
  • What are some changes Hugo made to his sleep that made a big difference? [43:20]
  • Where can you learn more about Dreem? [47:00]
  • Hugo Mercier's final takeaway message [53:00]

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Hugo Mercier:

“Enough sleep is unique to you, and it can change over time.”


Welcome to the award-winning SuperHuman Academy podcast where we interview extraordinary people to give you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here’s your host, Jonathan Levi. 

Jonathan Levi: This episode is brought to you by BLUBlox. Blue and green light is destroying our sleep hormones and performance, and that's why it's important to wear blue light blocking glasses. But did you know that all blue light glasses aren't created equal? I personally have started wearing BLUBlox blue light blocking glasses as they are the only blue light blocking company in the world that create Evidence-Backed Lenses for filtering blue and green light. 

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Greeting, super friends and welcome. Welcome to this week's episode, which is lovingly hand assembled. Thanks to a review from Lindsey and Hugh who says, where insight meets inspiration five stars. I'm currently making my way through the back catalog of all of SuperHuman Academy podcasts, and I cannot get enough.

Jonathan really walks the walk and has amazing tasting guests. Everyone from millennial millionaires to the more esoteric every episode leaves me feeling that anything is possible thanks to you and your lovely guests. Well, thank you Lindsey for that wonderful review. It totally brightened our day and just makes us want to keep producing more awesome episodes.

So if you haven't left one, please do go ahead and do so on to today's guests, ladies and gents. Today I was joined by Hugo Mercier. The CEO and cofounder of dream, a leading digital therapeutic for sleep disorders. He has led his business through the development of the company solution, the dream to headband, which I recently got a chance to try out and was blown away by so much so that I wanted to have you go on the show to learn how they managed to build a sleep lab that you can buy and use at home to improve your sleep.

Now you guys a graduate of my Alma mater, UC Berkeley, and the  Polytechnique in Paris where he, he studied engineering and entrepreneurship. He's also been honored with all kinds of awards for being an innovator and all different kinds of awesome influential persons awards. And he's even spoken at amazing events such as slush web, summit, TEDx, and more.

Now, I really, really enjoyed this episode and I think you will very quickly see why. I know we have done a lot of episodes on sleep, but I have never had a chance to talk to someone who works with. Literally a dozen of the world's top sleep researchers, one on one, and is constantly spending his entire day analyzing sleep research and figuring out how we can practically make people's sleep better.

So I learned things about sleep, and that says a lot. Because I have done a lot of thinking and interviewing and reading about sleep. I know you're going to enjoy this episode, and if you do, feel free to visit our website, and use the affiliate link in the blog post for any of the stuff that we mentioned, whether it's books, devices, and so on.

Now. Without any further ado, please welcome mr Hugo. Merci.

Mr Hugo, CA. How are you? My friend? 

Hugo Mercier: I'm very great than you. 

Jonathan Levi: Oh, I'm fantastic. Fantastic. Really excited to finally chat with you because I've, I've been so enjoying the dream product so much so that I even did a review video, which I'm sure it came out many months before this podcast. So just excited to learn more about sleep cause I think it's one of the most important topics we talk about on the show.

Hugo Mercier: That's great. Thank you for having me. And I'd be happy to chat about this incredibly interesting topic. 

Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. So before we get into that, I want to give the audience some context for who you are, what you do, and, and how you got into the field of sleep. What along your journey in life prompted you to be interested in sleep?

Hugo Mercier: Uh, so I'm, uh, I'm French as you might hear as my accent. Uh, I'm 27 years old. Um, I have a background in engineering and mostly computer science and mathematics. Um, I have like a feminist background, which is very, very far from what I'm doing because my father is, uh, was a professional wrestler and stunt man.

And my mother. He's a nurse. Um, so definitely not the same areas. Uh, but I, but I always wanted to do entrepreneurship. So I studied my first entrepreneurial project when I was young. I've, I've done my first, uh, internet website when I was 10 years old. And then I started to do some websites for, uh, you know, my, my father's friend companies.

Uh, and, and I always been doing like, you know, side projects and part of my studies. Um, and so I always wanted to do entrepreneurship, and I also loved, um, scientific entrepreneurship. Uh, so basically, you know, entrepreneurship that is really leveraging some true scientific breakthrough or technological breakthrough and not just incremental innovation.

Uh, but that's true that, you know, that that type of. Entrepreneurship is pretty rare because it's, it needs heavily massive fans. It's risky, but it's always what has been fascinating to me. Uh, and also in, I've always been very, very interested about two scientific space, one being space, and the other one being human brain.

Uh, and I think you can find a lot of similarities between, you know, the brain and space because they are. Too, you know, like big directories that the human are trained to come care and under the human brain side visit, it's pretty, it's pretty crazy to think that we don't know and we can't explain how the human brain really works.

We can't explain where the concert's Nancy's coming from. We are not really able to explain and model what makes us human. And I think it's a fundamental question for the human being. Um, so of course you had like a lot of progress in your sciences in the last decades. Uh, but definitely the human brain is a very, very complex system.

It's one of the most complex system in the universe that we know. Uh, you have a hundred billion neurons communicating with up to a hundred thousand physionomy runs around them. And so. The complexity of that system. And the fact is, you know, each time that you learn, each time that information is processed by the brain, the brain is structure is being modified since it's already complex.

But then you have this, you know, like plasticity, complexity on top of that. So basically I was always interested in about that. My, my uncle, uh, is, uh, is quite a well known French know scientist. Um, so I always had chats with him. Uh, and then. When I was 21 years old, uh, in parallel of my engineering studies, uh, I studied to have discussion with him.

And, uh, one of my classmates, uh, we founded the company with Quentin. Uh, and we basically said, we, we, I'm not numerous scientists. We are good engineers. We are, you know, we are pretty smart and we want to help you and find two peaks on which we could collaborate. Uh, do you need any engineers? And anybody by chance, one of the projects they were working on was.

The way to stimulate the brand using sounds, uh, in order to increase the quality of sleep, uh, by modulating the activity of rain, uh, uh, in order to improve the quality of sleep. And so it was an interesting, very interesting topic. Uh, and that's how I stumbled upon neuroscience and, and sleep. Uh, and that's pretty much how everything started, but it was not a company on.

Now your project at the beginning it was mostly scientific research and decide, you know, site school project. 

Jonathan Levi: That's fascinating to me. I expected there to be some story. You know, half the time when we have folks on the show, they say, Oh, well, you know, it was very healthy. And then I started having X problem and it led me to solve the problem for me.

But in your case, it really came from a fascination from the get go with sleep and also being exposed to having a leading neuroscientist in the family, which I imagine really opened your eyes to the detriment. Of not having proper sleep and end the damage that it can cause to the brain. Talk to us a little bit about that.

I think people know, you know, not sleeping enough is not good for me and my body needs rest. I don't think people realize just how much damage they're doing to their brain when they sleep. Only six hours a day or only five hours a day. Talk a little bit about that, if you would. 

Hugo Mercier: Yeah. I think again, in the last decade, so.

Uh, our ability to understand sleep and the consequences of the lack of sleep, uh, is based on our ability to understand brain. Because basically we sleep with our brains. So if you want to understand what is going on when you sleep, you need to analyze brain. And so the, the, the laboratory device that has been used to measure a brain activity is called a man.

Which one's several, Graham, uh, EEG and these device at the end and, uh, and starting to be used in research, um, in the fifties and then around the 65, around 65 or the seventies, 1970, you have the first police have no graph. So it was a slightly modified version of the electron, several gram to specifically understand how people are sleeping and what is going on when we sleep.

Uh, so sleep science is a pretty recent science because like the, the very first, you know, like sleep measuring instrument was born in the sixties. So only a few decades ago. And, and these device is, it was always, and it's still a very expensive one. So today our police on the graph, medical grade polysomnograph cost between 20,000 to $40,000 depending on the complexity.

And yeah, it's very expensive because you need to get to measure the brand electrical activity. You need to measure very, very small electric current. So basically when, when your neurons are doing something and communicating with each other, you have chemical reactions that create an LH, very short, very small electric, current.

And then the addition of all these electric currents are measurable on the scalp. So like this your face of, of your skull, but it's very small. It's few microvolts. So as a comparison, the ECG, so the, the electric current coming from the heart rate is around microvolts. So it's 1000 times bigger. So really measuring EEG is not easy because you get another noise.

Even the nice coming from our, you know, our walls. So all the electric system around us is generating noise. That is. That it's true backwards into the EG. So I think access was it. EGS is something that is not easy because you need. Metal election codes with blue. So you need a team to really place it on your head.

Then you need specific electronics, and then you need specific algorithm to clean and understand the signal. And so the fact that this device was really, really expensive was quite limiting the scale and the number of studies on sleep. Um, but, but obviously over the last decades, you had. I think in in, in three decades, a number of publication on sleep, I've been multiplied by 10 in the literature, which is huge.

Meaning that science has, has gained a lot of interest in understanding sleep. And so, uh. The mother made progress until they understood that basically sleep is a very important part of our health. When we sleep, we have critical processes happening, like memory consolidation, like Sila regeneration. Uh, like waste removal.

Um, and, and so little by little, they started to look at the effect of the lack of sleep or boosted on our health. And so in the last decades, you have like very interesting, but preoccupation studies that have been demonstrating the impact on sleep, on the development. Of diseases like cardiovascular disease, like diabetes for example, or blood pressure, mental disorders.

You have a very strong correlation between sleep, depression, and anxiety, and most importantly, with the separation of millage now to these others like the Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. And so sleep has been seen by a scientist as a very important part of our health. Uh, but also at the way to put on Shirley.

Predict diagnose disease. Because if, if you see that sleep is impacted by your disease, then you can see, you know, biomarkers and information in sleep that could alert on the disease. That is, you know, a writing that you can also maybe see sleep as a way to prevent from disease or slow down the development of specific disease.

And so that's, that's why in the last few years. You had a very strong scientific interest and from all this publication, then you had like the general media that started talking about sleep and, and, and, you know, all these discoveries. So I think that we are a very strong evolution and awareness in the society.

Like, yes, okay, sleep is important and we can, we can, we can start seeing why it's important. So, yeah. 

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, no, I have a question for you because I think a lot of people, their justification for not sleeping enough is, ah, I'll catch up on the weekend. And I'm wondering if in 

Hugo Mercier: your research and 

Jonathan Levi: work you've discovered, is that actually valid or are people doing damage that you can't just repair by sleeping in on the weekend?

I mean, is it really the case? I've heard it say that sleep debt is actually not a real thing and that your body doesn't, it's not a bank account. What are your thoughts on that? 

Hugo Mercier: Yeah, no, that's true. Uh, and, and this is what, uh, the like different research work has been demonstrated over the years is like the damage your cousin to your body and your brain by not sleeping enough is not something that you can repair by sleeping more on the weekend.

Still still, I would say that it's better. It's better if, if you can try to catch up with it. Uh, but, and, and, and, and we use the, the principle of sleep depths. Uh, in order to, you know, like musty, materialized to people, uh, you know, what they are missing. Uh, so sometimes we can optimize it with naps, but naps are not, they are not perfect.

So if you try, for example, to catch up on, you know, an hour on hour and a half of missed sleep, then you're going to like a very big nap. But by doing this very big nap during the day, then you decrease what we call the sleep pressure. So when, when you will be in bed, you won't be, you know, you won't be ready to sleep.

And so you will probably fall asleep very, very late. So we, we, we only recommend some. Short naps between 10, 15, 20 minutes before really reaching the deep sleep stages. Uh, and this could have some Rica reprint people, uh, you feel, you know, refresh and you will get like a, a pretty, pretty good boost, uh, drinks a day.

But obviously, obviously there is no magic formula and, uh, and you know, people have been trying for, so like in the society generally. Uh, in, in the last century, people were basically saying, sleep is a loss of time. So sleeping is preventing me from doing monitoring's a day. Two messages on one intention.

The light bird was saying that it's because they want to, he wants to fight, you know, sleep and do, accomplish more. Thanks to the electrification of our nights. Then you have the, you know, like the. Wall street bankers in the eighties, like, you know, like the money, never sleep. And so, and then you had all these major, very famous president or entrepreneurial saying, I don't sleep a lot.

And you know, it's competitive advantage. Um, and so I think we developed in our modern society, the idea is that sleep is for non achievers and, uh, and if you want to be successful and you should try to fight against your sleep. And then in the recent years, you add, uh. You know, we own this wave on self awareness, you know, activity, doing more activity, becoming more aware of your own body and trying to treat it treated better.

I think you had like first people that trained to talk a lot about that. Like I and I think time will Rhodes as a sleep revolution. Why we slipped from Metro worker, which was like a really interesting center that educated the population on that. And now you see. You know, big startup company CEO, seeing how sleep is important for for many reasons.

Um, but, but still it hasn't reached yet the mess. And I think you can really compare, you can really compare that to fitness, but fitness and activity really started much, much longer ago. Like the awareness on the fact that you knew. Doing sports and is important. And it be, it has been driven by the fact that you have, you know, famous professional athlete and people try to, I don't speak to themselves, we, and we don't identify that.

We also have to lead to good sleepers. So, so I think you have like a very, you have a transition in the society, but few, some people that are already realizing it, but it doesn't reach the mass. And it's definitely what we're trying to do with my, with my company is not only, you know, develop and sell product, but also.

Try to make people realize the importance of sleep. 

Jonathan Levi: Now we keep talking about enough and high enough quality sleep. What is enough? I know this is a very controversial question, but what is enough and what is high quality sleep actually mean and look like? I mean, if anyone in the world knows it would be you.

So what are people supposed to be looking for as the gold standard of whether or not their body and specifically their brain is getting enough sleep. 

Hugo Mercier: The complex decomplex. The true answer is it's unique to you. It's unique to you, and it can change over time. So you have actually short sleepers, so people that really need like only like four or five hours, but actually this population.

Represent only something like 0.1 0.2% of the population. So it's a very, very small percentage of the population. So, so what happens usually is people saying, you know, I don't need, I don't need to sleep. I can sleep five, six hours. But most of them have actually, um, you know, doing arms to their buddy. Uh, and the truth is like the real shot sleeper, you don't have a lot of people that have these genetic predisposition.

Now for the rest of us, uh, it's, it can, it can vary from six hour and a half, two and a half, or even nine hours. You truly depend on people. And I don't like to say this is how you should sleep, because the truth is it needs to be cured or experienced. So you other ways to try to, you know, figuring out your, your optimal state duration by trying, you know, different.

Different time to fall asleep and different time to wake up. Um, you know, they'll, and, and see how you feel, you feel during the day. And by tracking this information and this data being clear about the amount of sleep you need. Um, and so this is basically one of the innovation that we have developed in our solution is as we have access to like very, very accurate.

Sleep tracking. Plus we have the inputs from people during the day. We are able to give them the information of Thor use, specifically real team. What's the direction? Should be that amount of time, and this can vary because if you look at a spot. Uh, or, you know, activity, or if you had the party or whatever, then it will, it would change.

Um, but so, so definitely there is not like a one size fits all answer. And it's also depend on your chronotype is important. So like, some people will feel more refreshed if they go to the bed, you know, early or late. And, and, and you're treated depends on your genetic predisposition in your internal biological clock.

This could be measured as well. Uh, but definitely no, no one size fits all answer. Sure, 

Jonathan Levi: sure. That makes a lot of sense. And so I guess there's no, there's also no kind of one size fits all for the proportion of sleep. I mean, do some people need more deep sleep than REM sleep or, or is that pretty standard across, you know, given the amount that you need to sleep, everyone should be sleeping X amount of REM, X amount of deep.

Hugo Mercier: So it's the same. Um, so we have. You know, we have approximate w w we, we have like average percentage that, you know, on average a human being spend X percent in DC, X percent in night's sleep, X percent in REM sleep. Uh, it's, it's purely, it's purely observational. So this is what we measure from people and this is like an average information.

Now. I think we are only at the beginning of really understanding how everything works and, and what these, you know, sleep stages are for and the functioning of them. Uh, so today from the scientific literature and from the consensus from scientists and doctors looking at the number of minutes, the exact number of minutes on your slip stages every day is not going to give you directly.

And information too, that you can take and say, okay, I sleep, I slept well, or I'm not sleeping well enough. Sure. Well, but what is interesting is actually in what we see from our, some of our users, they are fearing out stuff. Uh, they are like, uh, some, some change in their lifestyle training, some change in their schedule.

Uh, and they are looking at the evolution of the data. And the ELP is basically by doing some. Research on themselves to try to develop solutions so that people can do that automatically, because definitely you see differences. So few and amends that you can see is basically, if you're very, very tired, you will, you will get a bigger amount of deep sleep because your body needs to rest more because you are in sleep debt, and so you will go into deep sleep faster and you really stay longer into deep sleep.

That's why we started to associate deep sleep to the restorative. Process and re restorative mechanism of sleep. Um, we know during REM sleep, REM sleep is, this is also called paradoxical sleep because when you look at brain activity, you can see a brain activity, which is very, very similar than if you were awakened that your body is not moving.

Because. The novice communication is, gets between your brain and your body. Some people have issues. So basically is it sleep working? And you start, you know, like physically living with everybody, body, their own dream. Uh, but from must, uh, as individuals never lose communication is, is, uh, is guts. And so REM REM is as been demonstrated, but still by experiences that is.

Correlated somehow to mental health. Uh, it's, it's, it's where the psychological restoration of brain is OCRing while during deep sleep is muscly, you know, like buddy restoration plus. Uh, some specific type of memory. Then we understand that you have the light sleep stages. So the light sleep stages are probably coming from evolution because, because when you see your night, then you see that someone is putting into deep sleep.

Then they are going back to very light sleep and then going back to sleep. So it's almost, we believe a way. That evolution introduce that into our, into our biology to make us either every 45 minutes, every hour. Because when we were in the, you know, in the caves, we didn't want to be eaten out by some animals around us.

And so it might, it might explain why our sleep is fragmented and based on stages. And why, you know, like the bird is going back to lights to be for going back to sleep. Um, so w what is interesting is science is very empirical and we are very, at the beginning of, uh, uh, of understanding that and everything that we knew for me has been really about experimentation.

And so one of our ideas to really create one of the largest decentralized. Steve presents platform, and we have called that the adventurous program. So we asked to thousands of our users worldwide to enter research protocols. So they contribute to it by giving us more information. And then we measure all the data.

We analyze it because we have private many, many things to figuring out. Still in the community are some sweet, 

Jonathan Levi: incredible. So for those who aren't familiar, that the dream product is really a sleep lab that any consumer can buy. I mean, I'm sure that's. Close to accurate. What's the difference between dream and a and a sleep lab?

Hugo Mercier: Um, so actually where I've been demonstrating through clinical trials that there are, there, there is no big difference. So we compared the dream headband, which is a piece of hardware. Is that where users where on the head? Uh, it's, you know, the meds like, like a lot of different types of sensors to measure brain activity, hydrate, breathing frequency.

And so we really wanted to compare yourself to the gold standouts or to go to some that navigation is a pretty seminal graph, which is. An EEG plus more, more sensors, and which range between 70,000 to $40,000 so we equip people with the dream had been blessed. The, the electrodes coming from the police on the graph.

And we come there, we compare the road signals, and so we have a 90% so nine zero correlation between the two row signals. So it means that if you put a human experts in front of the data, you won't be able to make any difference in the two signals. So, so we are really like quite, quite like near optimal.

Uh, if you compare that to the medical equipment. So, so then like the row single and the rule information is really, really, really accurate. And then we want you to also to measure the accuracy of our analyses, uh, of the, of the data where we're algorithm. So we have a lot of, you know, meshing numbing to reinforce a model as we have more users and melt data generated.

And we compare the result of our algorithm with the medical go stand out. So the medical constantly up to date is basically the sleep doctor, which is going to look at the  is going to say, this person has apnea of this person as these times that's skip stage, et cetera, et cetera. So the goal, so now this basic human, when it comes to skip staging and in disease, uh, so we again, compare that algorithm and we took, uh, five medical doctors.

Uh, from the ASM, um, that are, you know, like scoring data all the day. Uh, and, uh, our algorithm last year ranked number two, Ida out of six. Um, and the disease, 

Jonathan Levi: it actually beat four of the humans. 

Hugo Mercier: Yeah. So, yeah, exactly. Exactly. And, uh, and, and, and that's really demonstrate. And again, the goal is not to. Try somehow to eliminate, uh, the human doctors, but still like this, he's at an interesting opportunity to win sometimes.

So, yeah. Very accurate in there. Yeah. In analyzing sleep stages, detecting sleep apnea, and we're also working today on more longer term research and development project where we invest significant resources in trying to detect biomarkers. Is this information. That could be, that could announce Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.

So these are like good lessons, 

Jonathan Levi: just fantastic. And I will say, what I really like about the dream product, and it's important that I stayed here, that, uh, Hugo and his company have not paid me to say this. They sent me a unit to try out, um. But what I love about the product is I always felt like every sleep tracker gives you data, whether it's good data or bad data is, is beside the point.

Because as I talk about in the review, I did, I really have never seen data this good. And I, it made me trust none of the other activity trackers have ever used. But it gives you data. And then the big question is like, okay, so what, and what I love about the green product is right away it starts. It's not telling me what to do, but it's asking me questions that that will raise thinking points.

For example, did you eat two hours before bed? How dark is your bedroom? Um, I'm a pretty tough cookie cause I've done probably 15 episodes with sleep experts and yet it's still managed to improve my sleep as well. Tell me a bit about how those recommendations are generated, because I know your goal is not just to help people understand their sleep, it's to improve their sleep.

Hugo Mercier: Exactly. Um, so the very first, the very first, um, focus that we had in the team was to get the hardware piece and, and improving over all the other years. And I think we stayed out of it out of. Very interesting future innovation to come to, you know, make it even smarter, lighter, cheaper, and really push forward innovation on hardware.

But then very, very rapidly, we started building software Bluffs on the top of that then, and we looked at, we, we were, we, we, we have built really early in the history of dream is a strong network of scientific collaborations. So today we have more than a hundred. Public laboratories, academic institutions, Johns and hospitals that are using dream technologies and collaborating with us on different research.

And the reason why is because we basically looked at everything that was in literature and scientific literature. To understand what could we do to help people sleep better. And what we're figuring out by looking at all this information streaming from, you know, a lot of different teams in the world was that again, there is no one size fits all solution.

So, so you don't have like one thing that everyone could do and to improve their sleep, you have a lot of small things. You, you, you, of course, your hygiene is impacting your sleep, your activities impacting your sleep, your environment is impacting your sleep, your age, physiology, and health is impacting your sleep.

And so it becomes really hard for people to figuring out what should I do to improve my sleep? And so the way we develop the solution and design the solution, and I think we are only at the first percent of what we could do. Uh, on, on both hardware and software features is we want to implement in our product every interesting, you know, interventions that people could use to improve their sleep.

And then through better, you know, and that is used in, through intelligence of our software. Try to give to someone the right information at the right time. And so we really see the product as a kind of assistance in the future. So really looking at the decades of scientific research. And thinking from all that knowledge, very specific information that the person will, will find out very useful for them because we believe people don't want to lose time, uh, in general.

So you have early adopters that will spend time understanding and trying out stuff. But if you look at the broader population, we need to make that easy for people. Right. Right. And so, yeah. 

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I was gonna say, what I like about it is it's very easy to use. I found that with my aura ring, I got really tired of going in there and trying to dig up the data that I needed and draw conclusions.

And yet with dream, it's just a card or two everyday that asks me a question. It's, it makes it a lot easier, uh, because as geeky as I am, and as much as I like playing with these products, you know, I'm trying to spend as little time on my phone as possible. 

Hugo Mercier: And we don't want, like for me, like the future of the product is basically.

You have a piece of hardware that you don't even realize it's it, it's here anymore because it's so small and so transparent and so seamlessly integrated. You don't even like notice it. And you don't even need to go in the app or like very, very, and every single round is up to nice to you. And so this is a direction we are taking out a dream.

And so the type of features that, uh, that we have implemented because we found that these one were working. Uh, we, we started from neurofeedback and biofeedback. So we have series of audio programs at the beginning of the natural, ranging from breathing, exercise, um, you know, cognitive exercise, simple relaxation techniques that, uh, that are modulating personalized based on, uh, the physiological information of the user.

So how tried brain activity that turns down when someone is falling asleep. Um, and, and we develop that because. Uh, you know, at space can have very, very interesting apps. And I, and I really loved them. And the quality of content is really great. Uh, but we feel that if you really want, if you really, really want to, you know, make it mass and really have a lot of people, uh, we, you need to give people feedback on, on what is doing to them.

Uh, you know, like what, when when you stop working on ed space, it's about at the beginning because you don't notice the difference. And so, and so what we, and it's something that we have started to do and that we are going to, you know, ship as features, but it's really having the ability to. Give the user of the feedback on, on the impact it had on relaxation of the duration to, for the sleep.

And really being able to see that impact, to keep being motivated in doing it. So this is like one of the first, uh, areas that demonstrated, um, very interesting results. Uh, we have a smarter unplug that we are refining and, uh, and I think it's, people want to know, okay, so what is my optimal duration? Or each time.

I should sleep and what time I should go to bed, what time I should wake up. And not like generally speaking, but in my case. So again, it's just something that the product is trying to deliver and waking you up at the optimal time at the end of the night, based on the measurement of your brain capacity.

So if you're not in the right stage where we, you know, we'll do that, um, gradually, and we'll try to wake you up at a moment to where. Uh, we believe you'll be the most refreshed on the, at the end. Um, and then you have a lot of, um, we have implemented the principles of what we call CVTI. So cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a program to add people restructure their sleep.

Uh, so it's a mix of. Educational content. So we have tried to make that content interesting through text and videos and, and really like educational and then not too boring. Um, and then you have exercise. So cognitive exercise. So trying to, you know, eliminate some of the soap that are preventing you from, from.

You know, falling asleep or waking up at night. Uh, and, and do you have the sleep restructuration, which is again, that sleep scheduling, really adapting, skip scheduling, uh, to recreate sleep pressure and to recondition your brain on learning how to sleep. So  is really working well for people that are, that have real trouble falling asleep and waking up at night.

Uh, and, and what we do is in few weeks, we completely restrict your sleep. So people. They're going to bed, they wake up and they would actually have a drink tonight. 

Jonathan Levi: So I have, I have definitely noticed that dream has, part of it is I, and I don't want you to tell me, I haven't figured out how to snooze it.

And so that's really helped with the sleep schedule. Uh, but also. It really has helped me enforce my sleep schedule because I wake up at a perfect time. I feel great when I wake up and I'm so, I'm so excited to wake up in the morning and see how I did and how I slept that I kind of like leap out of bed.

And, uh, and again, I've tried a lot of sleep trackers in my day, so it's been incredible just how much, because I believe that a good day starts the night before. Uh, yeah. And not just with sleep, by the way. I believe like if you're watching TV until 11:00 PM and filling your consciousness with fear right now, as we're recording this, the whole world is, is obsessed with Corona virus and all of that.

Uh, you know, that's, that decision is going to affect your sleep, which is going to affect your next day, which is going to affect your next day and on, and on and on. So, uh. I think, I think, you know, it all comes down to sleep and I've been really, really happy with how much 

Hugo Mercier: more control I 

Jonathan Levi: feel like I have over my time in my life now that, uh, I am waking up more refreshed every morning.

Hugo Mercier: That's great. And, and, and you know, like this is exactly why the whole team, the whole a hundred people that dream are really looking for what add everyday is. Uh, and because like, it can make such a huge difference in your life, in your drive, in your motivation and your focus in your memory, but also on your general health.

Um, you know, and, and, and, and the thing is, people are aware that sleep is important. They are aware that, you know, we should not do this on, we shouldn't do that, or you have the tracker. I was getting to give you a referee in estimation on how you sleep, but I think people really need something personable and they need to have something that they could trust and then they will give them the best.

Scientific disk, and this is, I think, a very interesting part of what we do and we really want to push on that is really, we want to bridge the gap between the experts, the scientists, and our daily lives. Because we have been, we have been really amazed by the incredible job. The scientists all around the world are making days after days, but science is don't want, they are not here to translate it into something far that the dice, this is not their job.

This is not what they want to do. What they want to do is publish a hundred percent. And, and there we've seen that this could be actually a very great collaboration because if we can really plug, plug ourself to the best labs in the world, then as soon as we find out very like an interesting thing, then we can right away push it to our values.

And basically it happened multiple times where we are the nigiri coming from. One, one research lab. We took that ID and two weeks and a half after this idea was implemented in a beta on few hundreds of slippers globally. And so the duration from ID innovation to life has been significantly reduced because thanks to like the hardware development, the database, and the whole software engineering around.

Uh, we have been able to do that and we believe that. In our world, people want to take more and more ownership of their own health. And, uh, because after the information revolution, people became more and more connected. They had access to data information. And I think they want the same level of, you know, revolution on their health.

Um, and, uh, and, and, and in that word, it's very interesting to have. Uh, the technology in the middle, the people in the updated, I've giving feedback, giving us ID, scientific, giving us feedback, and that is an ID and combining everything to make things move forward. That's why I was saying I believe we're only at the one, one, the first person of what we could achieve, uh, on sleep and with dream.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, absolutely. And I think the world will be a much better place when people give sleep. The same respect that they give. Well, I was going to say nutrition, but people it, that's probably the next frontier after sleep because people really don't respect nutrition either. Uh, you go, I want to ask you, you're a high performing guy.

You're, you're 27 years old and running this huge company and working with some of the top researchers in the world. What are some of the things that you do besides sleep? To perform at your highest 

Hugo Mercier: level. Uh, so sleep as definitely. So when I started the company, I had absolutely no, you know, no idea, no specific thought on sleep.

Uh, so I was sleeping really poorly doing parties because I was a young engineering students. You know, like I didn't really take care of myself. And then really rapidly, I think I'm working something like 80 on average, 80 hours a week, um, 80 80 to 90 hours a week and so, and so basically at some point. I felt like I wasn't going to make it if I didn't care of myself.

So of course sleep was a first to peace that I end old because of what I do. But then, uh, doing, uh, activity, extremely important. Um, I'm doing, I don't know, like seven. Yeah, something like seven hours, eight hours of, uh, gym a week. Um, so definitely it's AP me, um, on, on that aspect and I've seen a lot of difference.

I try to eat to coffee. Um, I've tried to limit Alcor at dinners. Um, I, yeah, I'm basically trying to take care of myself and then structuring goes. So my, my, my, my agenda and trying to. Take some at his con, you know, do some split in my schedule. I think specific time for thinking, you know, like stepping, stepping back and processing my ages, et cetera.

So, you know, like the more you're doing that, it's close to six years, then I've been doing that to you. Just figuring out like some tips and stuff that worked for you. 

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. Now on the topic of tips and stuff, I guess I would be remiss along this process of you studying sleep and and having access, I mean, you probably know more sleep researchers than anyone in the world, I think.

What were, what was one or two of the biggest changes that you made to your sleep that made the biggest impact? 

Hugo Mercier: That's a good question. I think, I think super regular routine. Uh, is is something that I'm really tied to. Uh, I'm just seeing if I have a, like, a late dinner. Um, you know, but I'm trying to invite that, like drinks a week, but obviously like, like, yeah, I think it was a very fixed kid.

You would, he's very important. Um, and so I, I, you know, I don't wanna wake up please. It was an alarm clock. I wake up always at all the time. Um, I think, yeah, this is the first, the first thing. And then also, I think my sleep was impacted a lot by, uh. Stress. Um, and so, you know, activity plus some breathing exercise combined, decrease a little bit of stress and so increasingly Japanese sleep, uh, and how, and how I wake up.

Because after, you know, it's a, it's a cycle. Everything is communicating with each other. So your stress or your, you know, your stress or maybe like you, you try to drink a beer and then you don't sleep well. And then you wake up, you'll tire, and then that's the same the day after. And so then, so you need to break that.

Um, and, and, and really being disciplined about keeping the fixed schedule. So nothing crazy. And again, uh, on, on the, on the advice, uh, and, but, but, but. Again, it's like the, the self organization. I think people need to understand the Neeson to himself. And I think technology could play a very important part at giving them the information.

And when, when the companies like Fitbit started, it was like very interesting and visionary company, right? So it's, you know, measuring people activity and, or even physiology and giving them feedback on that. The only problem was. I tried traditional activity trackers, I'm not accurate. So, so what's the point of tracking your surface if you can trust the data?

And then what I do, I do with trackers. So I think that the next generation of tweakers would be, can you go medical grade? So you can really rely on the data generated. And then it's not only about data, but it's about insights. So taking. They're taking the intelligence and the knowledge coming from scientific and experts and translate it to you so that you can understand what is going on.

Uh, but again, there is no one size fits all. And, and, uh, it's a, it's a life experimented, but definitely worth in this investing sometimes 

Jonathan Levi: a hundred percent, a hundred percent. And unfortunately for people, for the vast majority. You know, we all have different sleep needs, but we all have the D. We all have the same conditions and criteria, right?

Like there's no one person who sleeps better with alcohol and one person who's leaps worse. There's no one. And people believe that that's not the case, but they're mistaken. There's no one person, I had someone the other day tell me, he's like, I simply cannot sleep unless the TV is on. And I'm like, I'm like, that's ridiculous.

First off, and if I were to measure your sleep, you would discover that your sleep is of very poor quality, and that's, you know, that's a habit. That's a mental comfort blanket. Perhaps. They're like, no, no. I just leave the TV on all night and I sleep great. And, and the truth is, right, you're, you're not a special snowflake.

We all need dark sleep environments. No one sleeps well warm, you know, all these things. And people I've intentionally wanted to focus on, on the science of sleep improvement here less than the actual techniques. People can go back and listen to past episodes of the show if they want to know or they can pick up a dream.

So tell folks where they can learn more about dream. We'll obviously be putting a, a link in the show notes, but. Where can people reach out, learn more, pick up a copy, pick up a version. A unit for themselves. 

Hugo Mercier: Yeah. So, so you can go on our website, we are not distributed into retail stores, uh, because we want to, we want it to master some basic, it's available online.

You have like a team, like a customer care team who is available, uh, 24. We're on 24, seven, seven days on seven. So if you have any question on, you know, is it, is it for me? You can, we can do that and ask them. A question. You can also, we have developed like a small website, which is an online questionnaire, which is pre rapid online.

You can, you answer a few questions and so in the end you'd get the first view on the type of, or you, so I've usually, it's based on data you are providing us, it's not accurate data, but still it's a first step free, one easy one to understand how you sleep and then we send for free. Um, you know, and your cash and order content by email.

Um, if you, if you, if you give us your email address, but yeah, so on the website,, and you have a team that is here to answer a new question. 

Jonathan Levi: Fantastic. And I realized we didn't talk at all about, uh, pink noise and sleep stimulation. And this is a good time to mention currently at the time of this recording, sleep stimulation does not work for people in the U S but tell us a little bit for those, uh, in, in Europe, uh, that feature that they can look forward to.

And hopefully. In the near future, folks in the U S can also look forward 

Hugo Mercier: to. Yeah. So deep stimulation is something that we have implemented on the product, on the product, uh, at the very beginning of the company. So when I started, restarted with my, was my associates, uh, talking with my uncle, the, the project was, you know, this idea of triggering pink nose and very specific moment of the night to enhance deep sleep.

So, so. Phew, phew. Results shot. Teams around the world. I've observed that if you trigger pink noise, so pink dyes is basically simple shop noise. It's like white noise, but it's being, because it's slightly different fragrance. Um, and so if your trigger a sound that very specific women's. Of the brand activities that we call the slow waves, which is basically your, your brain is, you know, lighting up and lighting down in very synchronous way when you're in deep sleep.

And so when you measure it with an EEG, you can see like beautiful waves going up and down. That's why we them so waves. Um, and so you, you should trigger a sound at the beginning of the soul wave. Then you see that. You are actually, you're actually creating most of the waves, so you increase the number of still weight, you increase the density of deep sleep and the power of slow wave.

Yep. So it's very interesting because a lot of scientists were associating, dip, sleep was recovery. So why don't we started the company. The idea was let's, let's try to see if we can implement that feature in a product that people use at home. Because when, when we started doing that in the lab, it was basically like the big EEG equipment led to a computer with algorithm running on that.

And. An expert actually triggering the stimulation manually. Uh, and so we, we, we worked on that from engineering's 10 Byron and we developed that and pushed that on the first version of the product. Then what we have seen, so basically your foot asleep, you arrive into deep sleep. Uh, we, we started thinking slow wave, and then he sent, um, uh, stimulations, uh, to your brain, which are sounds.

It's noninvasive. Uh, the sounds is met via bone collection, which is a way to making sounds without there being any scene and you're here. Um, and. And, and you, you are aware of that, but your brain listened to it. And so we have seen a pretty, pretty great, if you guess, right? So it increase the power of your slow wave and your deep sleep by 40%, which is really significant.

Wow. Um, we have done, we have done like, you know, like double blind studies, so we like. Experts didn't know if they were going to give stimulation to people and people didn't know if they were going to receive stimulations. And then you've seen the same efficacy then regarding the output. So it, it increased like overall sleep quality, but what is the impact on people's sleep?

Or are they feeling more refreshed on it? So, so we have seen it in a quite significant way that. People were slightly more refresh, refresh with stimulation. If you take the whole population, then we had seen in the population different categories of people and some people were reacting much better than other ones.

And insurance is, we don't know exactly why yet. So it could be because people have different, you know, hearing ability to hear the sound. It could be because, um, people would have.

we feel that stimulation when you work on, as you sleep more than people with insomnia, with apnea, for example, it works better on younger I new yours, et cetera. Uh, the choices like stimulation, I think it's, it's, it's, it's a big science for Galleria and it's something that is really new and the tourist Mo, Mo, Mo investigation in coming years to really understand the impact.

So we understand it's. It's adding value. People feel more refreshed. You have no one saying, you know, I feel less refreshed or a negative impact on people. So, so we did not measure that. Um, it's not available in the U S right now because we have, we have discussion with the FDA, so it's, it's a regulatory thing.

Um, but, uh, but definitely we try to put that back on the U S market, uh, as soon as possible. 

Jonathan Levi: Fantastic. All right. Well you go, we have officially gone through our time today and, uh, and I don't regret a single second of it. I do want to ask you before I let you go, if people take away one big message from this episode and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives, what would you hope for that message to be?

Hugo Mercier: I would say that

taking care of your sleep, I need transformative. Um, it would be a Johnny because we really changed the way you leave. And also because you will be part of, I think, cultural revolution and 10, 20, 30 years from now, we won't sleep the same. So if, if you want to join like by your nails, uh, it's the right moment.

Jonathan Levi: Fantastic. All right. Well, mr Hugo, Marcy has been such a pleasure having you on the show. I'm really, really excited to continue watching as your company grows and and continue using the products. So thank you so much for coming on today. 

Hugo Mercier: It was a pleasure. Thank you. 

Thanks for tuning in to the award winning SuperHuman Academy Podcast. For more great skills and strategies or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit While you're at it, please take a moment to share this episode with a friend and leave us a review on iTunes. We'll see you next week!



  1. Luiz
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    Thanks, I learned a lot of interesting things in past episodes.

  2. Shivaditya Purohit
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