it is a stroll on the beach, sitting in a tranquil garden or a trip in
the space shuttle researchers are testing a new iPhone app in a mass
experiment to see if it is possible to craft the perfect dream.
Developed by British psychologist Richard Wiseman, a professor at
the University of Hertfordshire in England, the Dream:ON app plays a
soundscape to evoke the sensation of being in a particular environment
during the stage of sleep when dreams occur.
“If it’s birds tweeting, then the idea is that you’ll hear birds
tweeting in your dreamm,” said Wiseman.
There are 20 soundscapes with themes such as Wild West, Space
Shuttle and A Trip to Tokyo. After choosing a wake up time and
soundscape, the user places the iPhone face down on the mattress and the
app monitors body movements throughout the night.
During the last 20 minutes of sleep, the app plays the soundscape if
the dreamer is in REM sleep, a state when body movements are suppressed
and dreams most likely occur. The app activates the alarm when the user
is coming out of REM sleep because there is only a ten-second window
when a dream will be remembered, according to Wiseman.
“Ten seconds later and it’s gone,” he said, adding that dreams are
likely to occur in the last 20 minutes before waking.
Users are then prompted to submit their dream to the database which
will be analyzed by Wiseman and his team.
The researchers are also studying whether they can help to induce
lucid dreams, which is a state when you are conscious that you are
dreaming and try to control the dreams. “Some of our soundscapes have a
voice-over which tells you that you’re dreaming and that it’s okay for
you to take over that dream. And one of the questions we’re asking is
‘Do those induce lucid dreams’?” he said.
Allan Hobson, a dream researcher and professor at Harvard
University, said “There’s no question that you can influence the plot of
your dreams. But lucid dreaming is rare because it’s a design error; it