The first step to controlling your dreams is to realize you're actually dreaming. And that's where the Remee sleep mask, a product developed by two Brooklyn inventors, comes in. Using an array of glowing lights, the mask gently reminds a user mid-dream that he or she is asleep, theoretically making it easier for the wearer to enter a lucid dreaming state. Here, a guide to the ambitious Kickstarter project that has investors dreaming big:
What exactly is lucid dreaming?
"Lucid dreaming refers to the act of being conscious while in a dream state — you're in a dream, but you know it," says Nitasha Tiku at BetaBeat. It's like "Inception without the corporate espionage." The practice goes way back — think Aristotle and Tibetan Buddhists — but the term itself was coined by Dutch psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden in the early 1900s. Lucid dreaming requires diligence to master. Scores of books, websites, forums, and specialized classes are devoted to teaching the practice. The goal with the Remee is to make achieving the state of awareness easier.
How does the mask work?
The sleep cycle is divided into two main stages that alternate throughout the night: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep — where dreams typically occur — and non-REM sleep. The Remee mask has six red LED lights that glow and blink when a user enters the night's deepest REM phase — all without waking you up. The idea is that "if you're in REM sleep the lights will bleed into your dreams, presenting a perfect chance to become lucid."
Who thought this up?
The $95 Remee mask is the brainchild of Duncan Frazier and Steve McGuigan, two Brooklyn-based inventors who revealed their idea on Kickstarter. The team came up with the concept when they realized that other dream masks were bulky, uncomfortable, and really expensive. (A similar mask developed in 1993, called the NovaDreamer, still costs upwards of $600.) Originally, the duo's goal was to raise $35,000, but would-be investors perked up, and Frazier and McGuigan now have more than $570,000 to work with.
Okay. But does it really work?
Remee's inventors makes no promises. But for someone who wants to overcome a recurring nightmare, the sleep mask could prove valuable. "Gimmick? Perhaps," says DJ Pangburn at Death and Taxes. "Cool in a psychedelic science fiction way? Absolutely."