There are no shortage of apps to help you get fit and healthy. But whilst running, cycling and hiking are all pivotal parts of the keep-fit process, it’s important not to underestimate the role that sleep plays in our mental and physical wellbeing.

We’ve previously written about the likes of Lark, which recently expanded from a simple sleep monitor to a full on coaching service, whilst Jawbone’s UP wristband automatically tracks all aspects of your sleep including hours slept, time to fall asleep, phases of sleep (deep versus light) and overall sleep quality. And then there’s Sleepyti.me, which tells you when it’s time to clock-off for the night.

Now there’s Dream:On, an iOS app that claims to influence your dreams. This might sound like something from Total Recall, but there seems to be at least some solid science behind it.

Launched at the Edinburgh International Science Festival by psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman, the app is underpinned by the concept that not all sleep is the same. It’s widely accepted that most of our dreams take place during REM sleep, a phase during which our minds are also more sensitive to other senses. And it’s this that Dream:On seeks to capitalize on.

How it works…

You put your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch on the corner of the bed close to your head before going to sleep, and Dream:On begins monitoring your sleep pattern. Given that it’s based on movement, it will work best with only one person in the bed, however it claims it will still function with more than one person present.

When the app senses that you are dreaming, it plays a ‘soundscape’ which has been designed to help create your desired dream.

There’s even a ‘Dream Store’, which lets you specifically select the type of dream you want – this really is getting in to Total Recall territory. You only have two soundscapes to choose from for free though, and the Dream Store will charge you £0.69 ($1.10 USD) per each additional soundscape.

a1 520x380 Dream:On: This iOS app promises to influence your dreamsIt’s also important to note that this whole idea is still an experiment, and you – the dreamer – are very much part of it.

“We have created a new way of carrying out mass participation experiments,” says Wiseman. “We still know relatively little about the science of dreaming and this app may provide a real breakthrough in changing how we dream, and record and track those dreams.”

b2 520x381 Dream:On: This iOS app promises to influence your dreams

Dream:On constitutes a monitoring and optimisation engine – which changes based on your feedback, so you will need to remember to record your dreams and experiences. Wiseman notes that it may take several nights before you begin being influenced by the app, given that people vary in their ability to incorporate soundscapes into their dreams.

You can view a graph of your movement during your sleep, and as with any modern-day app, you can even tag Facebook friends who appear in your dreams, and include a short description of what happened.

Whilst Dream:On clearly has a major gimmicky factor to it, it is a genuine endeavor to explore how human dreams work. The incorporated ‘Dream Bank’ will be used to examine a number of issues, including gender and age differences in relation to dreams, and also whether global events impact on them.

Dream:On is compatible with iPhone 3GS and above, iPod touch (3rd Generation and above) and iPad, and it requires iOS 5.0 or later.

Meanwhile, check out the official Dream:On demo video below.

Dream:On