Can a smartphone app influence your dreams? That’s what the makers of Dream:ON, a new app and mass-participation experiment available for iPhone users hope to find out.
Dream:ON was designed by Richard Wiseman, a professor at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain, who said it may be possible to influence dreams by monitoring people’s sleep patterns to discern when they go into REM sleep (when dreaming happens), and then play soundscapes designed to create a desired dream.
To use the Dream:ON app, you would select from one of several prerecorded soundcapes such as a peaceful garden (the gentle twittering of birds) or ocean (waves lapping at the shore).
Then you would place the phone on your bed, where it will monitor your movements as you sleep -- and present you a chart of how much you move around in your sleep in the morning. The soundscape will not start playing until the phone has determined that you are in REM sleep.
When the app senses you are moving out of REM sleep, it will sound a gentle alarm that should wake you up. Then, it asks you to submit a brief description of your dreaming experience into a “dream catcher” database.
“A good night’s sleep and having pleasant dreams boosts productivity and is essential for psychological and physical well-being,” Wiseman told the Daily Record when he announced the experiment at the Edinburgh International Science Festival on Tuesday. “Despite this, we know very little about how to influence dreams. This experiment aims to change that.”
One night after the app became available, the Dream:ON team had already collected data from 100,000 users, according to its Twitter feed @DreamONapp.
The team was still sorting through the first night’s data as of this writing, but the response on Twitter was generally positive, although several people said that they noticed no change in their sleep.
Android users who would also like to influence their dreams will be invited to participate in the experiment later this year.