There are at least a few iPhone apps that deal directly with sleep - ranging from relaxation and white noise apps to sleep diaries, but DreamBeam, which started as a paid app but is now available for free, is one of the few iPhone apps to lay claim to the concept of dream induction.
DreamBeam is an app that employs a "two phase dream induction method" and help users essentially create dreams of their own choosing. Phase one is selecting a dream "theme" and watching/listening to a brief video of the chosen theme. Phase two involves placing your iPhone under your pillow and waiting for it to detect your REM phase, at which point it uses sound to induce dreams of the earlier selected theme.
Sounds a bit like hokum, yeah? Well, being no expert in dream induction, there's not a lot I can say about the basis of the research or claims that it works in 50% of cases. The idea, if uncommon, isn't new. There are non-iOS gadgets based on similar methodology such as the NovaDreamer and the REM-Dreamer. The big difference is that most dedicated dream induction devices are aimed at individuals who want to experience lucid dreaming and cost a lot more.
So, is it entertainment or science? The simplest explanation is that DreamBeam is based on the power of suggestion. By offering visual animations and sound productions of a theme and then recreating the sounds during sleep, it seems plausible that *some* people may actually begin to dream about the things they saw before going to sleep.
DreamBeam is at the very least a curious idea. And, wouldn't it be great if there were merit to the concept? People suffering from recurring nightmares could instead choose to dream about dolphins and cruise liners or unicorns and monkeys. People who wanted to guarantee themselves a peaceful dream could simply select a theme, fall asleep and wait. If only it were that easy.
DreamBeam features only two available themes right now – "sea" and "jungle." There's an indicator that more themes are coming, but that they might have to be purchased separately. (You'll get the same themes whether you download the paid or the free version of the app, so be sure you're getting DreamBeam Free.)
As for the function of DreamBeam, the instructions and settings are fairly simple to interpret and adjust for creating the experience the developers intended. Users can adjust the sensitivity and sound volume so that the slightest movement triggers the dream theme playback at whatever volume is required for the user to hear it. If you're a light sleeper, odds are the sound playback could just as easily wake you from sleep rather than induce a desirable dream. In addition to the dream induction function, DreamBeam also has a built in alarm to wake you at a set time and the option to record any thoughts or memories from your dreams.
Being an app based on the concept of dream induction, DreamBeam is unique in its own right. Obviously it isn't going to work for everybody and is more likely to only help those easily influenced by the power of suggestion to have peaceful dreams. If there's any scientific evidence that suggests dreams can be influenced, it's published somewhere in a journal I haven't read. Still, the idea is a bit fun to contemplate and legitimacy aside, DreamBeam at least includes some relaxing sounds and cool animations with its two dream themes. Best bet if you're curious? Simply download the free version and see if the power of suggestion works for you.
Check out the YouTube video from CrazyMikesApps.com to see a sample of DreamBeam in action.