Controlling Dreams With Free Dream:On App

As I started to read David’s post about the Remee Sleep Mask last week to my husband, he mentioned that he had heard of app iPhone app that supposedly does the same thing. While it may not be as high-tech (and probably accurate in its job) as the sleep mask, there’s one alluring factor to it that makes me tempted to try it out: it is free.

The app is a “mass-participation experiment” that is trying to determine if it is indeed possible to control what you dream about. It basically does the same thing that the sleep mask does, but for a better description, Dream:On’s website provides this video that explains the premise behind how it works:

Although the music used in this is slightly strange, I think it sounds like a neat idea, if it actually works. As it mentions in the video briefly, it is a social experiemtn as well, because you can post your dreams to Facebook and Twitter, and indicate if any of your friends appeared in the dream. The app also features a “Dream Bank” where users are encouraged to write what the dream was about. I’m guessing that is to help the creators decide if the “soundscape” chosen affected the dream or not.

Another added feature is a “smart alarm” that “gently” sounds before the time you have selected, which apparently wakes the user up at “the optimum moment in order to leave you feeling refreshed and happy.” I don’t know about everyone else, but most of the time when I wake up, I’m feeling groggy, grumpy, and a little bit sick (having a 3-month-old that likes to wake up during the night tends to have that effect at times!), I wouldn’t mind trying that out.

I haven’t had a chance to actually use the app at night yet, but I did download it to my husband’s iPhone and checked it out. In order for the “dream controlling” to work, a “soundscape” must be selected. This are available for purchase, however, there are four (2 regular dream soundscapes, and 2 lucid dream soundscapes) that are included with the download. The app description also states that more free ones will be added every month, and reiterates that no purchase is necessary for the app to work — there is just less versatility available.

I was impressed with the app when I first opened it, as it gave detailed (with pictures!) instructions on how the app works. You have to go through a few steps to either allow or not allow geolocation and what not, and then the “fun” begins. A pretty neat looking screen pops up after the first page, that looks like this:

My first stop was settings, where I selected an alarm sound. You can also enable Facebook and Twitter accounts to be active for the phone at this time, as well as a snooze function. After this, I checked out the “Start Dreaming” area. Here, you are brought to a screen that looks like this:

It’s pretty self-explanatory — select a time you want to wake up, the alarm volume, alarm tone, and the soundscape. The ones included with the app are  Random, Peaceful Garden, and Into the City. At this point, I was instructed to go to sleep (which, I did not do, hence why I’m still writing this blog) and gives the following instructions:

  1. Switch your device to silent
  2. Connect your device to its charger
  3. Place your device facing down on the corner of your bed
  4. Do not lock your phone
  5. Enjoy your dreams!

The app also features a DreamStore, where you can purchase more soundscapes, and a dream diary. This is where you are supposed to be able to record your dreams, see graphs of sleep patterns, and jot down notes about dreams. The notes are used for the “Dream Catcher” experiment. When I tried to access the dream diary, it just said “you haven’t recorded any dreams yet”, and I couldn’t go any further.

On its page in the Apple app store, it says that about 50% of users see results who use it for several nights in a row and to “approach the experiment with an open mind . . . and remember controlled dreaming is not like turning on a tap, for some users it works the first night, others can take longer.”

The reviews seem a little divided. Recently, many people have been complaining that it crashes a lot. However, some say it actually works, and others have found the sleep cycle chart to be very informative and accurate. On the other side, some people claim the app has given them the most horrifying nightmares they have ever had. If that’s true, I definitely won’t be using it! Here are two opposing comments on the app; take them for what they are worth, but I feel like they are important to read before using the app:

from Raye Palmer
Warning: I downloaded this app and chose “peaceful garden.” I had the worst nightmare of my life that I can remember. I work in research and know that in order to know if the app really works there has to be some type of anti-placebo quality. Therefore, my conclusion is that the soundscape will not always play what you choose in order to rest if the soundscape is really the reason you have your dream. I checked and there really was a “horror” choice. I KNOW that’s what they played instead of the “peaceful garden”…There’s no way I dreamt that Freddy Kreuger type mess on my own! I advise you to do the same and not let other people remotely play with your brain through a phone.

from Debra King
I saw this on 20/20 the other night and decided to try it out. I am impressed. I had the best night of sleep I can remember in a long time. I awoke easily, rested with a pleasant feeling to begin my day. I can’t wait to see what tonight brings.

Either way, it’s an interesting experiment. I’ll be curious to see if anything comes from it. Dreams have always fascinated me, and it would be great to see if there is anyway to control dreams. Who knows, maybe dreams could somehow be connected to health — REM sleep is some of the best sleep a person can get, and good sleep typically means better health.The app can be downloaded for free here for the iPhone. It is not available for any other platform.

About the author

Katie Clark

Katie Clark

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.