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Dream sweetener? New app aims to banish nightmares and give us the dreams we want

When you rest your head on your pillow for a good night’s sleep, you want exactly that — a good night’s sleep. There’s nothing worse than being startled from your slumber by a terrifying nightmare, leaving you rattled for the rest of the night, unable to drift off again.

A new iPhone app developed by British psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman and mobile services firm Yuza aims to help sleepers have sweet dreams by influencing people’s thoughts and imagery while they’re dreaming.

“Research from sleep laboratories suggests that it should indeed be possible to give people their desired dreams and help them wake up feeling happy and refreshed,” Wiseman wrote in the Guardian on Monday.

The free app, called Dream:ON, works by playing a ‘soundscape’ specially designed to influence the nature of your dream.

Before going to bed, all you need to do is choose which type of dream you’d like to have (eg. a walk in the woods or lying on a beach) and what time you want to wake up. Placed on your bed, the app monitors your sleep pattern through the night.

“If the app detects a sudden lack of movement – indicative of you dreaming – it will quietly play a carefully crafted soundscape of your desired dream,” Wiseman explained. The psychologist is keen to find out whether people’s dreams can really be influenced by nearby sounds, and if so, to what extent.

As the app’s alarm wakes you up the following morning, it’ll prompt you to submit a brief description of your dream. The supplied data will then be used to find out if and how the app’s soundscapes are helping to shape people’s dreams.

Wiseman, who’s based at the University of Hertfordshire, is hoping that up to 10,000 people will take part in the study, which was launched at this month’s Edinburgh International Science Festival in Scotland.

“We have created a new way of carrying out mass participation experiments,” Wiseman says on the app’s website. “We still know relatively little about the science of dreaming and this app may provide a real breakthrough in changing how we dream, and record and track those dreams.”

If you fancy being a part of the study and seeing if your dreams can be sweetened by an app, head along to Dream:ON’s webpage for more information.

[Image: dedMazay / Shutterstock]