Dreams

13 February 2013 by Ben

In recent months, the iOS App Store and Google Play have seen an influx of sleep analysis applications that allow a user to monitor and analyse numerous aspects of their everyday sleeping habits, including duration, the amount of time spent in light sleep vs. REM sleep and the overall quality of sleep, based on various factors.

Using sleep data collected by the inbuilt accelerometer on supported iOS and Android devices, the developers of these apps are also able to provide extra functionality beyond tracking and analysis such as the ability for a user to be awoken gradually, using algorithms that factor in details about the user's sleep patterns.

Sleep Cycle for iOS does exactly this. The app knows when a user is in a state of 'light sleep', and is able to awaken them during one of these phases to ensure a fresher start to the day.

Hypnopædia

Hypnopædia, (or Hypnopaedia for those of us who prefer our letters disconnected from one-another) is the practice of conveying information to an individual whilst they sleep. Supposedly, sleep-learning is moderately effective when subjects are fed direct passages or facts, word for word. Many scientists and researchers, however, disagree, with Charles W. Simon and William H. Emmons stating publicly that learning whilst asleep is "impractical and probably impossible".

Probably impossible. There's only one way to find out…

Sleep cycles

Taking a leaf out of the books of sleep cycle analysis app developers, Lucid will determine whether a subject is in R.E.M sleep (and therefore dreaming), or in a lighter state of sleep, possibly partially concious.

It is important for us to determine when our subject is in deep sleep, as this is the only time when we can be sure that they are truly unconcious. When in deep sleep (R.E.M), the body places itself in to a state of complete stillness, otherwise known as sleep paralysis. Luckily, this is relatively simple to monitor using the sensors available to us in modern mobile devices and will form the basis of our project.

The Big Plan

The ultimate aim of our project is simple: to discover whether or not a subject is able to hear, understand, learn and be influenced by audio that is presented to them whilst in a sleeping state.

Part game / part experiment, players will be presented with audio samples of differing qualities: simple, descriptive, musical etc. (these will be discussed in-depth in a future post).

The player's goal is to complete a number of puzzles in a 3D environment that require specific cues and clues to complete. The kicker? The clues are only presented to the player during sleep. Whoa.

A player is free to subject themselves to the audio every night, for as long as they would like, with only one opportunity to complete the puzzles once they have begun. It is up to a player to make the move from the 'training' phase to the 'test' phase when they feel confident enough, whether it be consciously or subconsciously.