Can an app help you craft the perfect dream?

Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:42am EDT
 
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By Natasha Baker

TORONTO (Reuters) - Whether 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 dream," 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.   Continued...

 
A boy walks on Mount Moses in the Sinai Peninsula August 10, 2009. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic