REM Detection Lets You Boss Around Your Dreams

[Michael] has been working on projects involving lucid dreaming for a long time. The recurring problem with most projects of this nature, though, is that they often rely on some sort of headgear or other wearable which can be cumbersome to actually sleep with. He seems to have made some headway on that problem by replacing some of the offending equipment with a small camera that can detect eye movements just as well as other methods.

The idea behind projects like this is that a piece of hardware detects when the user is in REM sleep, and activates some cue which alerts the sleeper to the fact that they’re dreaming (without waking them up). Then, the sleeper can take control of the dream. The new device uses a small camera that dangles in front of an eye, which is close enough to monitor the eye’s movement. It measures the amount of change between each frame, logs the movements throughout the night and plays audio tracks or triggers other hardware when eye movements are detected.

[Michael]’s goal is to eventually communicate from inside of a dream, and has gone a long way to achieving that goal. Now that this device is more comfortable and more reliable, the dream is closer to reality. [Michael] is looking for volunteers to provide sleep logs and run tests, so if you’re interested then check out the project!

33 thoughts on “REM Detection Lets You Boss Around Your Dreams

  1. I once heard of a much simpler method, worked for me. Get into the habit of asking yourself, through the day, “Am I awake?”. Check, (by thinking, no need to hurt yourself), then say “yes” if you are.

    You might find the habit, if you do it right, transfers into your dreams. One time you’ll get a “no”, and if you’re lucky you’ll realise what’s happening. Worked once, then I stopped doing it, cos what’s the point? I had a certain amount of control, but it’s dreams after all, they’re not the consistent worlds that they are in films. Just a bit of illustrated thinking, really.

  2. I really like this. I especially like the use of the Mattel Mindflex as you can get them cheap at the thrift stores as kids are throwing them out as they get bored with them. However, the R.E.M. Communications to the outside world is fascinating. Imagine being able to communicate with someone awake (or asleep) in the same room or on the other side of the world. [Michael] has his method of doing so but it uses the archaic Morse Code eye blinks. I pondered on this and devised a way to use the Morse letter “S” like he does to transmit any number of letter in alphabet WITHOUT memorizing Morse Code. I made up a flow chart to explain it. I hope it is understandable. I also have and even faster method in mind (using same method) if anyone is interested.

  3. I had a 7-layer stack of dreams within dreams once. I just kept waking up somewhere else over and over. When I finally awoke in the real word I was suspicious that I was still dreaming.

    1. That used to happen to me as a kid. I would be dreaming and then I dreamt that I woke up to wash up and catch the school bus that never waited for us… Thinking I was ready to bust out the backdoor and rush down the road with my sisters… only to discover I was still in bed fast asleep… with mom screaming at you “GET UP OR YOU’LL BE LATE AGAIN!”

      ” I just kept waking up somewhere else over and over. “

      What are you a JUMPER? [Watch movie JUMPER (2008)]

    1. Yeah that sucks! It’s bad enuf’ when your boss rams around your FaceBook page and next day pops just his head around your cubicle and says: “Ummmm… yeah… Piecutter… you’re gonna’ need to come to my office after you finish those TPS reports…” [then takes a sip from his coffee cup and walks away in his goofy suspenders]… :-D

      [Watch movie Office Space (1999)]

  4. I’ve actually communicated from within a dream… :) … Luckily ( or maybe unluckily) I have frequent attacks of sleep paralysis… They often turn into lucid dreams once I am able to relax a bit. I have communicated, by breathing very fast/heavy, to my wife, who then wakes me up…

    1. Derrick – Try sleeping on your stomach. Also when you experience this during REM it is normal. But during waking or pre-REM try to wiggle your fingers and toes to cause you to awake on your own. Also Ive tried interpersonal communications during REM nightmares to another person. When your partner detects panic in your sounds and struggling movement, have them say things to you to enable self-defense to your dream antagonist. Like some people say they are being chased by an unsub (or unidentified subject), or an unsub mounts your chest and stares at you (i.e. hag ride?). Using subliminal suggestions one can cause the partner to be relieved of panic and stress. In a chase scenario I told the person to “turn around and face your pursuer. Now hold out your hand and a baseball bat (or whatever your weapon of choice is) will magically appear in your hand. Now you know what to do.” As Ving Rhames said in Pulp Fiction (1994) “…get medieval on [its] arse!” :-) (trust me it does work)

      BTW – Ving Rhames is that scary-looking guy standing in your front yard protecting your house from intruders in that ADT commercial (American advert) :->

  5. I built a similar device that employed discrete components for detecting eye movements via the light reflected off the eyelid by an infrared LED and picked up by a photodetector. I was considering building another but with surface mount components as they are far smaller and lightweight. The build I am talking about was done probably 20 years ago and employed an ancient PC, the BASIC programming language set to record serial data coming in via a certain designated port and a database used to collect the overnight REM periods. It worked quite well showing definite periods of REM activity that occurred fairly close to the same time each night. This article comfirms for me that the method of registering REM has not changed much in the years between. Good luck to the author of the project. BTW, people who posted the cautions about getting lost in multiple waking dreams you have little to fear of getting permanently lost in your dreams as even the most pronounced run of “waking within a dream” over and over will come to an end when your body gets hungry enough or, more likely, thirsty enough.

  6. Hey Michael, fantastic project. I have been an avid lucid dreamer my whole life and been looking for new projects to get involved with. I have tried and tested most of the products on the market and would love to help in any way possible with your project.

    Where are you located?

    You can reach me by email.

    Keep up the great work!

    Marcin T

      1. Hi Michael, thanks for your reply, best site ever! Do you also use the Halovision on your phone to detect REM-Sleep? Or how is it possible to use your phone camera instead of a raspbi & IR cam? Maybe I could work on that the following weeks, if there isn’t a good solution for now. Thanks!

        1. Hallo Raphael, thank you! I don’t use it on my phone because the camera doesn’t work in the dark. But you can try the Android version to see the algorithm in action, or the Windows version with a webcam or built-in camera. If the algorithm is set to motion-detection, it will play a track as soon as any movement is detected; if set to REM-detection, it looks for 8 small eye movements within 30 seconds. The desktop version shows a progress-stairway whenever a small enough movement is detected and resets for 10 seconds if a movement is detected that is too large – it thinks you are then tossing and turning.

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