Dream:ON is a nifty little name for an application for your iPhone that allows you to choose the type of dream to dream before you go to sleep. Before going to bed you indicate the type of dream you would like to have and when you want to wake up. You then place your iPhone on your bed and go to sleep. Dream:ON then activates and begins monitoring your sleep pattern. When Dream:ON senses that you are dreaming, it plays a ‘soundscape’ that has been carefully designed to help the dream you chose earlier. Whilst your chosen soundscape is playing, Dream:ON continues to monitor your movement and adjusts the volume accordingly to ensure you’re not woken up.
It’s welll established that we dream the most during the REM stage of sleep; that’s when we have Rapid Eye Movements. Not only do we dream the most at this stage, but the brain is particularly alert to senses such as sound. That means that we are most likely to hear the soundscape within the dream and react to it. According to the people who made the App, it may take a while for your brain to get used to the soundscape system and begin to react to it during sleep.
In the morning Dream:ON presents you with a graph of your movement during the night, and allows you to tag any of your friends who appeared in your dreams via Facebook (just like you would when you tag a picture). Therefore it’s a sort of ongoing social experiment. You can post a short description of your dream to add to a ‘Dream Bank’., thus creating what Dream:ON claim is the world’s largest dream experiment.
The application was introduced at the Edinburgh International Science Festival in Scotland earlier this year, and there have been over 300, 000 downloads.
According to Dream:On’s designer, psychologist Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire, the app is still in the testing and trial phase. “He asks users to report their personal results for a ‘mass participation experiment’ testing how well it works.” Naturally there’s no guarantee that the application will work for you, but reading some of the comments on Facebook, it seems to be pressing the right dream buttons for some people!
The key time for the soundscape to begin is 20 minutes before the alarm goes off. So if you set your alarm for 7am, the soundscape will begin at 6.40am. That’s because the last 20 minutes of sleep is where you are in the deepest dream, and most likely to be receptive to the soundscape.
Is it just a bit of harmless fun, or could the app be on to something big? Well, provided the soundscape doesn’t keep waking you up 20 minutes before you’re due to get up, I guess it’s worth a try. Now, what’s the soundscape for me to be flying on the back of a Giant Albatross with Cheryl Cole by my side and whispering rude things in my ear? Dream On!