By: Chris O'Shea
Let's be honest: Dreams — at least the ones we remember — are typically boring. We go to sleep with the hopes that something interesting will happen once we close our eyes, only to have our brains conjure up images of us going to work, losing our favorite socks, and talking with our friends about how damn boring our dreams are. In other words, dreams rarely offer us anything interesting or even anything outside from our waking hours. Well, if one iPhone app does what it's designers claim it can do, fun and worthwhile dreams won't be too far away.
The app, called Dream:ON, was created by University of Hertfordshire in England professor and psychologist Richard Wiseman. Here's how it works: Before you go to bed, you select a "soundscape" that is premade on the app, and then play it. The idea is that whatever the sounds are, you'll be dreaming about that. If it's birds tweeting, then the idea is that you'll hear birds tweeting in your dream," Wiseman told The Chicago Tribune.
The iPhone must be placed next to you to work. It monitors your body movements, and then begins playing the sounds when you enter Rapid Eye Movement sleep, which is the deepest moment of sleep for everyone and also the time when we we're all most likely to dream.
For now Dream:ON is in the testing phase and Wiseman is having people log their dreams — which are being influenced by "Wild West", "Space Shuttle", and "A Trip to Tokyo" soundscapes, just to name a few — after they wake up. If the app works, Wiseman said he's willing to move into "lucid dream" testing. A lucid dream is the kind of dream you have when you consciously realize that you're dreaming, and can then influence the dream to your liking. Dr. Allan Hobson, a dream expert and professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, told The Chicago Tribune that he has his doubts about this part.
"There's no question that you can influence the plot of your dreams," said Hobson. "But lucid dreaming is rare because it's a design error; it shouldn't happen. The body doesn't want to be awake and asleep at the same time — the brain wants to be in one state or the other."
Academic types can be a total downer, so let's say what Hobson didn't: How freaking awesome would this be???
Sure, Dream:ON will be expensive if it ends up working, but forget that (In fact, the beta version of the app is currently available for free). Think of how fun this would be. It would be well worth price. First of all, just imagine if Dream:ON can alter our dreams. No more boring, listless dreams. Instead of seeing Jim from accounting when we close our eyes, we see a beach and beautiful ocean waves. But the real fun comes if Dream:ON allows us to influence our own dreams. Because then, if we find ourselves dreaming about Jim, we can reply to his comments about us spending too much on client dinners by punching him in the throat. Now that's a dream.
[Pic via Flickr -Jason Wilson]