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New App Wants to Interpret Your Dreams

Every morning, sleep researchers lose an enormous data set as people wake up and have their first cup of coffee.

Nightly dreams go largely forgotten, making the sort of broad questions scientists ask about them difficult to answer. Do the rich dream differently than the poor? Do our nighttime thoughts differ from city to city, or from country to country?

The makers of a new app think they have an elegant solution to not only help people remember their own dreams, but to build a database of these unconscious thoughts that can be shared among friends and used by scientists to gain a better understanding of what we think about when we sleep.

SHADOW, a Kickstarter project launched by Hunter Lee Soik and Jason Carvalho this week, would combine an alarm clock with a dream journal. The app would use an “escalating alarm” to gently and gradually bring you out of a dream into the “hypnopompic state” between sleep and wakefulness during which dreams are best remembered. From there, the app would prompt you to record your dreams by voice or text, so that they can be archived for posterity (or just for your therapist).

The pair is asking donors to choose to contribute toward an iOS, Android or Windows Phone version of the app, with the winning platform to be built first.

The app’s data-gathering potential may also be a dream come true for sleep scientists and dream researchers. Current clinical studies of dreams have maybe a few dozen participants each. An app like SHADOW could offer researchers hundreds or thousands of cases to analyze.

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