Even though we all sleep, we still don’t fully understand what sleep is and what it does. Many believe that sleep enables us to process and store the day's events. There's also some evidence that it provides a time for one's braincells to focus their efforts on general maintenance and the disposal of waste chemicals and molecules.
Of course, one aspect of sleep that's familiar to many of us is that of dreaming. As far as we know, everyone dreams. Some people claim not to dream, but monitoring their brains while they sleep tends to disprove this; it appears that they do indeed dream, but they don’t remember their nocturnal adventures when they wake up.
A special sort of dream is a lucid dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming. In addition to being aware, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over their participation within the dream and manipulate their imaginary experiences in the dream environment.
Some people have a lot of lucid dreams, while others never experience (or, at least, remember experiencing) any such occurrence. I actually had a lucid dream myself close to 40 years ago as I pen these words. As I discussed in My first Lucid Dream , I spent a night working at an imaginary drawing board trying to capture a cutaway view of a glass factory. The next day, I walked into work and drew the whole thing in a single session, amazing my boss and fellow workers.
The reason I mention this here is that I was just on the phone chatting with Craig Weiss, Founder, President, and CEO at Aladdin Dreamer, Inc. Craig was telling me about a Kickstarter project he's just launched for something called the Aladdin Lucid Dreaming Stimulator.
This is a headband that monitors your brainwaves while you are sleeping, knows when you enter the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep level that indicates that you are starting to dream, and then stimulates you with low voltage, low current signals that can guide your brain into a lucid dreaming state.
The two key aspects of lucid dreaming are awareness and control. Quite apart from anything else, the International Association for the Study of Dreams estimates that 5 to lO% of adults have nightmares once a month or more frequently. If you are one of this number, what would it be worth to you to be able to recognize that you were in a dreaming state and control events as you wish?
(Source: Aladdin Dreamer)
Speaking of worth, one Aladdin Lucid Dreaming Stimulator with the associated smartphone app will cost you $299 via this Kickstarter. My knee-jerk reaction when I first saw this was that $299 is quite a lot of money, but as it says on the Kickstarter website: “What would it be worth to you to spend up to two hours a night (that’s five years over the course of an average lifespan) having extraordinary kinds of experiences that are only possible in a dream?” Realizing that some people happily pay more than $300 for a pair of Beats headphones sort of puts this into perspective.
Or consider virtual reality (VR). Currently, a PlayStation 4 + PlayStation VR combo will set you back $700. By comparison, a full-on lucid dream puts even the most sophisticated of virtual reality systems to shame.
There's a lot of evidence to suggest that practicing a physical activity in a lucid dream makes you better at that activity in the real world. I used to play the piano when I was younger. I've not played for years. I must admit to being tempted to see if a few nights of lucid dreaming would translate into a reawakening (no pun intended) of my skills.
Of particular interest to an embedded developer is whether lucid dreaming could improve one's productivity and perhaps even the safety of the resulting system. As I know from my own lucid dreaming experience, you can get a lot of work done while you are asleep. Suppose you are stuck on some intransigent problem. What if you could set this problem to one side, work on something else, and then return to consider your conundrum and resolve your riddle later that evening while you were asleep?
Personally, I would be interested in giving this a whirl. What say you?