Mass participation dream experiment launches


Under strict embargo: Tuesday 10 April 2012, 00.01

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.

UK Dream Map

The exact percentage of people in each region reporting pleasant dreams are as follows:
East Midlands                        24
Scotland                                 25
North East                              28
North West                            29
Yorkshire and the Humber             29
Wales                                      29
South East                             30
South West                            30
London                                   32
East of England                    33
West Midlands                       34

Press requests
For interviews please contact Professor Richard Wiseman on 07790905219 or email: r.wiseman@herts.ac.uk
For advance screen shots of the app and photographs of Professor Richard Wiseman using Dream:ON please contact Frances Sutton on 07841 579481 or email Media@scifest.co.uk .

Screenshots from Dream:ON can be downloaded from: http://yuza.com/files/yuza-DreamON-graphics-bundle.zip

Project website and download link for app : http://dreamonapp.com/
Project Twitter @dreamonapp

How does the Dream:ON work?

Before going to sleep, people indicate when they would like to wake-up and select a 'soundscape'.  They then place the iPhone onto their bed.  Dream:ON then monitors the person's movements twenty minutes before they awaken.  If Dream:ON detects a lack of movement  - indicative of dreaming - it plays the desired soundscape.  When the person starts to move again Dream:ON plays a gentle alarm and prompts them to submit a brief description of their dream. These descriptions are stored in a database and, over time, will be used to examine how the soundscapes influence people's dreams. Dream:ON is free to download and contains a state of the art smart alarm clock as well as soundscapes to help influence your dreams.

Dream:ON is for iPhone at launch and available now for free from iTunes - globally.  

10 Famous Dreams
Many researchers now believe that dreams are a rich source of creative thinking.  Here are 10 famous creative dreams:
1) Research chemist Friedrich August Kekule dreamt about a snake grabbing its own tail, which led to him discovering that the Benzene molecule has a circular structure.
2) Elias Howe dreamt about being taken captive by a tribe who danced around him with spears that had holes near the tips.  This dream led to his invention of the sewing machine.
3) Robert Louis Stevenson dreamt about the plot of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde".  He then completed the book within ten weeks.
4) Stephen King has used his dreams for inspiration for many of his novels, including 'Misery' and 'It.'
5) Paul McCartney awoke to find the tune for 'Yesterday' fully formed in his head.
6) Jack Nicklaus invented a new golf swing after dreaming that he was holding his golf club in a completely different position.
7) Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote his famous poem, Kubla Khan, after waking up from an opium-affected dream.
8) The basic plot for the Twilight series came to writer Stephanie Meyer came in a dream.
9) Mary Shelley found the inspiration for Frankenstein in a dream about the possibility of scientists discovering how to create life.
10) Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev dreamt about how atomic weights could be used to group the elements, and was inspired to create the Periodic Table.

About Professor Richard Wiseman
Richard Wiseman researches the psychology of luck, self-help, persuasion, and illusion.  A passionate advocate for science, his best-selling books have been translated into over 30 languages and he has created viral videos that have received over 25 million views.  Over 2 million people have taken part in his previous mass participation experiments.

About YUZA
Formed at the start of the app boom and with millions of downloads of its apps and partnerships with some of the worlds most powerful brands - YUZA is at the forefront of exciting mobile experiences. www.yuza.com Twitter@YUZA

About the University of Hertfordshire
The University of Hertfordshire is the UK’s leading business-facing University and an exemplar in the sector.  It is innovative and enterprising and challenges individuals and organisations to excel.

The University of Hertfordshire is one of the region’s largest employers with over 2,700 staff and a turnover of more than £235 million. With a student community of over 24,500 including more than 2,000 international students from over eighty-five different countries, the University has a global network of over 165,000 alumni.   For more information, please visit www.herts.ac.uk

The University of Hertfordshire was awarded the Times Higher Education ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2010.  Research is at the core of the University’s strategy to facilitate far-reaching engagement with business, community and national and international partners. The University’s research is world-leading and has been recognised by the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).

About the International Science Festival
Edinburgh International Science Festival is an annual two week extravaganza offering a packed programme celebrating science through vibrant, innovative events, hands-on activities and explosive experiments for adults, children and families all across the city.  The 2012 Edinburgh International Science Festival runs from 30 March – 15 April.   Full details of the programme and all tickets can be found at www.sciencefestival.co.uk .

About Us

• The University of Hertfordshire is the UK’s leading business-facing University and an exemplar in the sector. It is innovative and enterprising and challenges individuals and organisations to excel. • The University of Hertfordshire is one of the region’s largest employers with over 2,425 staff and a turnover of more than £234 million. With a student community of over 25,100 including more than 2,900 international students from over 120 different countries, the University has a global network of over 175,000 alumni. For more information, please visit www.herts.ac.uk • The University of Hertfordshire was awarded the Times Higher Education ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2010’.

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