Have you always wished that your dreams could be better?
But then again, how can you? It is out of our control. Or maybe not.
A recent study shows that listening to pleasant sounds while sleeping could make dreams more gratifying. These ‘soundscapes’ have been incorporated into a mobile phone app, making the process easier.
The results of this study come from an experiment conducted on a mass population. It was started in the year 2010 at the Edinburgh Science Festival in the UK. The aim of the study was to determine whether sound could be used to give a person’s dreams a particular direction, through it.
The study was conducted on a total of 800 people by British psychologists. All participants downloaded the free mobile phone app, Dream:ON, along with two ‘soundscapes’ or landscape sounds.
While the ‘nature’ soundscape consisted of the wind blowing, the rustling of tree leaves, and the chirping of birds, the city soundscape played traffic sounds, car horns, and the sound of crowds of people. Interestingly, the use of waterfalls and other water sources was avoided due to a possible inducing of urination.
The participants chose one of the soundscapes before sleeping. They also chose the time they wished to wake up at. Then the app programmed itself to play just a few minutes before the alarm sounded. It would not be loud enough to wake them, though, and had regular short intervals of silence.
After they woke, the participants would send in the details of their dreams. These details would be rated on content – nature/city references, emotional tone, and most importantly, level of inexplicability. There was a nature/city scale from 1 to 7. For example, a dream involving sitting on grass would score high on the nature scale, and walking in a city would score high on the city scale.
The results? People who listen to the sounds of nature for a short duration before waking up had subsequently more positive dreams. They were compared to those people who listened to sounds of the city instead.
However, for the effects to be truly positive, the sounds and mechanism need work and development. As of now, the effect of sounds on the emotional aspect of a person’s dreams was not sufficient enough. Besides, the study also did not fully record whether people actually felt happier or more positive on waking up from their sleep.
The researchers also found that those who listened to a certain soundscape reported dreams related to it. But then again, the participants chose which one they wanted to listen to in the first place. Also, those who chose a particular soundscape simply did so because they liked it more, and thus expected to dream of it.
Thus, though the content of the dream was driven by people’s expectations, the emotional tone was possibly influenced by the soundscape. This led researchers to believe that the nature soundscape made dreams more positive. This could in turn, improve a person’s mood on waking up, and in turn might help them work through their problems.
This development was highly vital due to the fact that there was a need to study people’s dreams outside the confines of a laboratory. However, the app did not indicate through its results, that it could fully help people create a perfect dream.