I have started using this amazing app, Dream:On. Professor Richard Wiseman, who created it, was featured in an episode of You Are Not So Smart and the idea seemed to much fun not to at least test out.
You place your phone on your bed–upside down so it knows you’re ready to sleep–and it tracks how you are sleeping. You tell it when you would like it to wake you up–or around what time, since it will be using your sleep cycle to wake you up at the optimal time to remember your dream–and what “dreamscape” you would like to use. It then plays that dreamscape in the last cycle of your sleep to influence your final dream.
It didn’t work this morning to influence my dream (I think I had the volume turned down too low), but woke me up at a time I could remember it. Yesterday it DID influence my dream, to the extent that the birds it used to wake me up TERRIFIED me. Yesterday it was a walk in the woods, and I walked in the woods, or near enough. I won’t bore you with the details of my dream.
I don’t know that it matters all that much to influence my dreams, except that there are days I wake up terrified of something and wish I could remember, or I have a dream that I would like to draw and can’t remember it for more than a minute. I’ve found that if you write down your dreams you can remember them better, and when you turn off the alarm on your phone you are given the option of writing down what you dreamt. There is usually an awful lot more to my dreams than I can write. Much more than just the narrative. Depth. There’s depth and context that the narrative doesn’t cover. And I don’t think I’m very good at exposition in my dreams. Like, I feel like I just turn to someone, a la Bones, and say “You remember we can’t walk on our feet any more because the moon queen forbid it last year.” But in my dream it feels less awkward. (Wow, how great is the word awkward with that “wkw” combination.)
There are some “lucid dreams” dreamscapes, which was what I was trying last night (this morning? Why do we have such problems with transitions in language…okay, why do *I* have such an issue?) I don’t know how to test them out to see what they sound like when I’m awake, so I don’t really know what they’re doing to make that work, but having had a few (very, very scary) dreams where I realized I was dreaming and tried to wake myself up from inside my own head, screaming at the other people in the room to help me wake up (but not screaming in real life), just like that terrifying part of Alice in Wonderland (how do people watch that movie?!!) I’ve always had a fascination with being more in control. Of course, that may be a reason to not get in control of my dreams. I have the desire for control everywhere and sometimes you just need to let go. Maybe Al-Anon was helping more than I realized.
The best thing about the app, at least that I’ve noticed over the last two days, is that it really DOES work at waking me at the optimal time. Unlike the UP alarm and a couple other alarms that supposedly watched your sleep rhythm, I do find myself feeling more rested when I wake (though I am feeling more tired throughout the day, as my body realizes I’m not going to bed early enough). I sleep through the UP alarm nearly every morning now, and the other alarms I would turn off in my sleep. Part of this might be because I am SERIOUSLY excited about my dreams. To the point where last night I went to bed looking forward to waking up and writing it down.
One thing that I think would be fun, though maybe not, given the notorious boredom of hearing about other people’s dreams, would be to have a word cloud associated with each dreamscape of what other people dreamt of. Something you could opt into, in case you didn’t want to share, and something you only saw after writing your own dream out, but it would be fun to see what the last 50 or so dreamers dreamt about, in a very generalized form.
As for me, I’m hoping to start drawing out some of the major themes of my dreams. Last night: accepting my son no matter who he is or how much other people don’t (he is a very sensitive kid, our neighbor has asked “what’s wrong with him” and neighborhood kids are giving him a really hard time). Yesterday it was about taking care of our bodies as we age. KNEES!