Is it possible to influence people as they sleep and give them their perfect dream? Today sees the launch of a new study that uses a specially designed iPhone app in an attempt to improve the dreams of millions of people around the world. If successful, the study will allow people to create their perfect dream and so wake up feeling especially happy and refreshed.
This study was launched at the Edinburgh International Science Festival by psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman from the University of Hertfordshire.
Wiseman has teamed-up with app developers YUZA to create 'Dream:ON' - an app that monitors a person as they sleep and plays a carefully crafted 'soundscape' when they dream. Each soundscape has been carefully designed to evoke a pleasant scenario, such a walk in the woods, or lying on a beach, and Wiseman hopes that these sounds will influence people's dreams. At the end of the dream the app sounds a gentle alarm and prompts the person to submit a description of their dream into a database known as 'The Dream Catcher'. Users of Dream:ON are also encouraged to share their dreams via Facebook and Twitter.
Each night Wiseman will collect thousands of dream reports and use the information to discover whether it is possible to give the world sweet dreams.
"The app is free and we want as many people as possible to participate," noted Wiseman. "I have conducted many mass participation experiments in the past, but this is by far the most ambitious and exciting."
As part of the launch, Wiseman has carried out a national survey into dreaming. The results demonstrate the need for sweeter dreams, with 21% of respondents reporting that they have trouble sleeping and 15% suffering from unpleasant dreams (see the 'UK dream map').
"Getting a good night's sleep and having pleasant dreams boosts people's productivity, and is essential for their psychological and physical well-being. Despite this, we know very little about how to influence dreams - this experiment aims to change that" commented Wiseman.
The exact percentage of people in each region reporting pleasant dreams are as follows:
East Midlands 24
North East 28
North West 29
Yorkshire and the Humber 29
South East 30
South West 30
East of England 33
West Midlands 34