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Muse is a Canadian brand best known for smart headbands. The company currently produces two models, one of which – the Muse S – offers advanced sleep tracking as well as guided meditation training.
The second-generation Muse S headband is equipped with sensors that measure brain activity, much like those found in an electroencephalogram, or EEG. These measurements are used to gauge how deeply you’re sleeping each night. A built-in accelerometer and gyroscope also record your nocturnal movements, and other sensors monitor metrics such as heart and breathing rates. You’ll receive a sleep score each morning based on these readings.
For the past few weeks, my family and I have taken turns wearing the Muse S Headband and testing out its features. We haven’t had the opportunity to listen to all of the meditation programs – there are literally hundreds to choose from – but we’ve had plenty of time to evaluate the Muse S’s sleep-tracking capabilities. Below, you’ll find my detailed analysis of how the headband feels, operates, and performs.
What Does the Muse S Headband Do?
The Muse S was designed with two goals in mind: to report sleep data and to help you meditate more effectively. The headband’s built-in sensors make both goals possible, albeit in different ways. Also, because the Muse S supports multiple users, you can share it with your partner, kids, or anyone else who has access to your preferred smart device.
The sleep-tracking function distinguishes the Muse S from its sister product, the Muse 2. This smart headband features the same sensors that monitor brain activity, heart rate, and other metrics in order to improve your meditation regimen. The Muse 2 also has built-in meditation programs.
Guided meditation, as the name implies, is led by an instructor. As with any type of meditation, the goal of guided meditation is to help practitioners relax, increase their mindfulness, and achieve a clearer mental state. Difficulties at work, relationship problems, and other personal issues can distract you and interfere with your ability to meditate effectively. This is where the Muse S comes in.
The Muse S consists of a stretchy headband with a small pod that should be positioned directly in front of your forehead. This pod is Bluetooth-compatible, allowing it to communicate with your phone. The headband has small golden sensors running along both sides. As you meditate, the pod and sensors monitor brain activity, heart rate, and breathing to ensure you are primarily focused on the task at hand.
If the Muse S detects elevated brain activity, indicating you might be distracted, the app automatically adjusts the volume to make your meditation program louder. If your brain activity levels are low, you’ll receive audio feedback in the form of a tweeting bird that means you are properly focused.
Wearing the Muse S correctly is crucial for proper feedback. The headband should be snug yet comfortable, and pod positioning is important.
The app keeps a running score on your meditation progress, including showing birds icons that indicate tweet alerts you received during sessions when your brain activity levels were optimal. You can also view milestones for your progress and set meditation goals for future sessions.
The standard app comes with a handful of guided meditations, ambient noise programs, and mindset talks to help you understand the process. The app’s free library is fairly extensive, but you can gain access to more than 500 different programs by purchasing the Premium Subscription Bundle.
If you are new to guided meditation, you should take a look at the Muse website, which features a helpful overview of different meditation techniques.
Sleep Tracking and Support
The Muse S’s sleep-tracking capabilities are top notch. The EEG sensors give you a better picture of how you’re sleeping compared to other devices on the market, most of which are not equipped with these types of sensors.
In addition to brain activity, the headband’s sensors monitor:
- Your heart and respiratory rates
- The amount of time you sleep and time spent awake
- Sleep latency, or the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep
- The number of times you change sleep positions during the night
Each morning, you’ll receive a sleep quality and efficiency score based on these readings. The Muse app also features sleep coaching programs and tips for improving your sleep hygiene.
A new feature of the second-gen Muse S feature is the Digital Sleeping Pill, or DSP. You can launch the DSP by putting on the headband and selecting one of the app’s meditation programs. As you drift off, the headband’s sensors monitor brain activity to determine how close you are to falling asleep. If the sensors detect sleep is imminent, the volume on the meditation program will begin to gradually decrease. If your activity levels are relatively high, the program will play at the volume level you’ve selected.
Personally, I don’t like listening to music or audio programs while I fall asleep, so this is a feature that isn’t really geared toward me. However, the DSP will probably appeal to anyone who enjoys a little nighttime listening – especially those who tend to fall asleep to music and later wake up because the volume is too loud.
Overall, the Muse S is a comprehensive sleep tracker that provides all the metrics you need to monitor sleep patterns and improve your bedtime route, with the added bonus of EEG tracking. I recommend the Muse S for anyone in search of a high-quality tracking device, with one major caveat: Its sticker price is pretty steep. If you consider EEG tracking a must-have feature, then the Muse S might be a worthwhile investment. But there are other, more affordable trackers on the market that provide the other sleep-tracking functions.
Many people with OSA have symptoms like excessive tiredness, irritability, dry mouth, morning headaches, and loud, frequent snoring. If you regularly experience any of these symptoms or have had a partner mention that your breathing is often interrupted while you’re asleep, it may be worthwhile to do a sleep study.
How Does the Muse S Headband Look and Feel?
I’ll start this section by addressing what is undoubtedly the elephant in the room for many of you: Is wearing a headband to bed comfortable? Surprisingly, yes. The pod is lightweight and unobtrusive, and the headband fabric is soft, stretchy, and breathable. You need to make sure the band fits snugly around your head, but I never found it too tight or constrictive. The only issue I foresee is discomfort for stomach sleepers, since the pod needs to rest on your forehead.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the Muse S’s different design aspects.
- Pod: The pod is detachable, with ports that allow you to click it in and out with ease. A micro USB cable for charging the pod is included with your purchase. You do not need to detach the pod to charge it.
- Headband: The band is composed of soft, stretchy polyester that can be hand-washed as necessary. It weighs about half a pound without the pod in place. The band is only available in one color, which I’d describe as indigo. Replacement bands are available through Muse.
- Fit: You can make the band tighter or looser by adjusting the strap with the side closure – but keep in mind it will need to fit snugly to work properly.
- Battery life: A fully charged Muse S battery runs for about 10 hours. Charging the pod takes up to three hours.
- Carrying case: Muse sells a carrying case that is compatible with the Muse S headband. The case is made of nylon and has a zipper for easy access. There is also room inside the case to store your charging cable. The case weighs about half a pound.
Buying and Setting up the Muse S Headband
There are several subscription options for the Muse S, which means the total price will vary. There are also some other fine-print details to consider.
Buying the Muse S headband directly from Muse is the best way to take advantage of the company’s substantial subscription discounts. However, the Muse S is also available through Amazon, as well as Best Buy Canada.
You can purchase the Muse S for $400. Each order includes the headband and charging cable. The Muse app is free to download, but you’ll need to order a subscription to access the full suite of guided meditations, digital sleeping pills, and sleep-tracking data.
The annual subscription costs $95. However, as part of the Muse S Premium Subscription Bundle, one year of full service currently costs about $10 for first-time subscribers. You can also opt for a monthly subscription that costs $13 per month.
Muse ships throughout the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Australia. Other international destinations are also available. Delivery costs vary by location, but customers in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free standard shipping.
Setting up the Muse S is a straightforward process.
– Download the Muse app and enable Bluetooth on your primary phone or tablet.
– Turn on the headband by pressing the power button. The LED lights should flash from side to side.
– Open the app and locate the headband under the Muse Mind Meditation icon in the top left-hand corner.
The headband should appear. If you have trouble setting up the Muse S or run into other problems, you can refer to the Muse website’s extensive support section.
The Muse S headband comes with a 30-day trial period, during which you can return the headband for a full refund minus any applicable shipping fees. The company only accepts returns on undamaged headbands.
The Muse S is also backed by a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
The Bottom Line
The Muse S headband is a robust sleep tracker that includes EEG readings on top of sensors that monitor standard metrics such as time awake and asleep, position changes, and heart and breathing rates. This device could be a good fit if you are an active meditator, especially if you enjoy guided meditation.
That said, the Muse S is pretty expensive, and you’ll need to pay ongoing subscription fees for access to the full library of meditation and sleep-tracking programs. There are more affordable sleep trackers that offer comparable benefits, minus the EEG.
Still, the combination of comprehensive sleep tracking and the extensive library of guided meditations may make the Muse S a good investment, if you have the budget.
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