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Tuesday 18 March 2014

“Go to bed and Sleep on it”

As a child after a fall or loosing a toy, teenage angst, exam time, break ups, even through our whole adult life when there’s a time of worry and stress or problem that seems nigh on impossible to solve how often do the phrases “sleep on it” or” things will look better in the morning” get said and how often are they right?

Are they just “old wives” sayings or did those old women really have knowledge and insight into how our subconscious comes to life in those dark night hours, able to seemingly provide solutions to problems, rationalize, consolidate, forgive and to heal.

The human mind has two domains: the conscious and the unconscious.

The conscious or “waking state” is the time when we are subjected to our problems or “we take in the pieces of our personal life puzzle”, the unconscious or “sleep dream” time is the time we work on the images and if the pieces are the right ones put them into some kind of order.

Dreams are reported as highly visual and often illogical in nature, which makes them ripe for the type of “out of the box” thinking that some problem-solving requires, says Dr Deirdre Barrett, a Psychologist at Harvard University who has studied problem solving in dreams for more than14 years.

After a breakup or emotionally upsetting event our dreams allow us the opportunity to “replay” scenarios often with different endings or “what if” scenarios, which allow us to accept, forgive and deal with the situation and enable us to move on.  When faced with similar situations in the future we are perhaps better equipped to make better judgment calls in a similar scenario.

Professor McNamara from Boston University also adds that the situation is a familiar one and these alternatives are called scientifically counterfactuals.

In psychology and cognitive neuroscience counterfactuals are treated as mental simulations of possible worlds or how things might have been if one variable in a mental model had changed, i.e. (I failed the test), we generate a counterfactual (if I had studied more) against which we compare the negative event.  The comparison process reveals that the counterfactual alternative seems plausible (I could have studied more) By engaging in these counterfactual simulations, we may more easily learn to how to avoid negative outcomes in the future, or we may learn how to strive more effectively for current unmet goals or desired outcomes”.

Garfield (1974) stated, ” Once your dream has provided you with your own poem, or painting, or solution to a problem, you know. Ever after you will be able to seek inspiration and help from your dream state. Those who do not believe in dreams have only nonsensical ones”

Dreams are therefore the recognition, re-examination and recomposition of our own unique “pieces” and only the dreamer possesses both dimensions of the puzzle, therefore only they can use them.  This is why dreams if captured can be a very personal and powerful self awareness and self help tool.

“Old wives” saying? We think not. Dreams are a means by which we can observe ourselves, give us a better understanding of who we are and an awareness of how we function, they give us a freedom from preconceptions and a new dimension of problem solving unattainable in the conscious mind.

Naturally to use our dreams wisely we first need to remember them, record, and reflect on how they make us feel.  This can be challenging. We often wake up in a rush and tear headlong into the day without giving ourselves the chance to reflect on a night’s sleep, an event which takes up to a third of our daily lives.

This is where dreamboard comes into its own. The Dreamboard app has both a daily reminder feature and an alarm function that will gently wake you and allow you to instantly record your dreams.  You can then capture your immediate thoughts and feelings through simple user-friendly icons and symbols and then add the additional dream narrative in a separate text field.

Should you wish to reflect on or even edit this later, logging onto your personal account at dreamboard.com can presently do this. However we know how much people would like this on their mobile device. Watch this space for future developments!

So keep recording and reflecting on your sleep and dreams at dreamboard.com or via the Dreamboard app and let us know if your dreams have offered you a solution to a problem and if “things really did look better in the morning”

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Friday 15 November 2013

Love and dreams

Hi Dreamboarders,

How are things? Are you still tracking your dreams?

Since we know you are passionate about dreams, we’d like to share the following thoughts with you.

First of all, how many times have you taken a moment to ask yourself what your dreams mean? It’s natural to wonder what they are trying to tell us, especially if you have recurring dreams.

It’s a little like when you fall in love with somebody – at first you probably aren’t even aware or you don’t want to admit that you have feelings for a certain person. It’s also common to meet someone who, at first sight, seems really annoying and then, maybe months or years later, you have to admit to yourself that you admire or are perhaps even a little jealous of that person.

Probably your unconscious had been trying to tell you this for a long time, but you were always too busy or distracted to listen. So you just kept on with your normal life, acting as if nothing in particular was happening, until one day you found yourself faced with a stark new reality.

We at Dreamboard are here to remind you that people can learn to listen to their unconscious, without any help from fortune tellers or interpreters, by looking instead at their dreams. There’s no need to ask someone to interpret your dreams for you – your dreams are yours alone. They are representations that your mind has created only for you, starting with your feelings and emotions.

By using Dreamboard, thanks to the feedback that the application gives you and the opportunity to read, day by day, your dream journal, you can understand more about yourself and – who knows, you may even discover a secret love!

Why not start now? It’s a challenge for both you and for us – a path we will take together toward your inner self and the wellness of your mind and body.

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Friday 08 November 2013

Dreams and the future

Hi Dreamboarders,

Here’s some very interesting news from our scientific team. Give it a close read and we think you’ll discover some incredible scientific facts about dreams.

Thousands of papers and books have been written about the role of sleep and dreams in processing of memories about the past but there have been few if any publications about the role of sleep and dreams in processing ideas or thoughts about the future. There have been, to be sure, sporadic publications about putative links between ‘precognition’ and dreams but these links are difficult to study and hard to substantiate scientifically.
We here at Dreamboard believe that dreams play a fundamental role in shaping personal visions for the future and that is one reason why they are important sources for wholeness and well-being. Dreams very likely play a leading role in what scientists have begun to term “episodic prospection” or “episodic future thought” *. “Episodic” is a technical term that refers to information processed by the brain in chunks or temporally-defined /delimited episodes. Examples of episodic future thought include key processes involved in planning, development of goals, generation of desires, mental simulations of possible worlds, conjectures, hypothesis generation, imagination of future scenarios and contingencies, delayed discounting of future rewards relative to present rewards, prospective memory or remembering to do x at time t, devising implementation intentions, and daydreaming to name a few.

What is the evidence that dreams participate in these varied forms of episodic future thinking? At present there is no empirical evidence to speak to the matter but that is because scientists have not yet systematically investigated the idea. But on the face of it dreams have to be involved in episodic future thought. In dreams the dreamer is virtually always desiring, planning, imaging, plotting, striving, simulating possible worlds, and in general aiming at some future outcome. Anyone who has content analyzed even a handful of dreams, (never mind the thousands that I have) soon realizes that most dreams contain the words “I was trying to do x when y prevented me or z interrupted me and the dream suddenly changed to p”. Dreams are goal driven and that is why they are sometimes spoken of as narratives, stories or episodes.

And here is a very interesting crucial fact: When brain correlates of episodic future thought processes are compared with episodic memory processes one difference stands out. In episodic future thought the anterior hippocampus is activated. During the night REM alternates with NREM forms of sleep and this alternation is known to subserve memory consolidation processes. In REM the primary output field of the hippocampus, the CA1 region, is disrupted (perhaps by rising cortisol level during REM) so information transmission from the hippocampus to the neocortex is halted or reduced during REM. But information processing in the anterior portion of the hippocampus is not halted. Indeed, it may be enhanced during REM sleep**  and this anatomical region, of course, is crucial for episodic future thought. It may be that the products of episodic future thought processes that take place during REM are transmitted to cortical regions during NREM and waking but their generation depends in part on REM activation of the anterior hippocampus.

In summary, dreams very likely play a far more substantial role in shaping our thoughts, goals and aspirations about the future than previously suspected. Dreams operate much more powerfully to shape future oriented strivings than they do past memories. It may not be unreasonable to suppose that sleep and dreams process information about the past (i.e. memories) only in so far as that information is used to simulate possible future states of affairs for the dreamer. This contention underlines the importance of working with dream images if one wishes to cultivate a rich set of goals and ‘visions’ for the future.

* Szpunar, K. (2010). Episodic Future Thought: An Emerging Concept. Perspectives on Psychological Science 5: 142, DOI: 10.1177/1745691610362350

** Dang-Vu TT, Schabus M, Desseilles M, Sterpenich V, Bonjean M, Maquet P; Functional neuroimaging insights into the physiology of human sleep. Sleep. 2010 Dec;33(12):1589-603

Patrick McNamara, PhD
Chief Scientific Advisor, Dreamboard Inc.

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Wednesday 30 October 2013

UX Conference: how design and technology can improve the healthcare

Technology is rebuilding the healthcare field. In the near future, sensors, applications, and various kinds of devices will track almost all our daily activities as well as our vital parameters in order to monitor our health and give us feedback and warnings about our status.

 This was the topic of this year’s UX Conference, organized by Sketchin at the University of Lugano this last October 26th. The title of the conference was “The future of healthcare” and the huge event drew 150 participants from all over the world. They debated issues regarding UX design and how future technology can change our approach to healthcare.

 Obviously Dreamboard was there, and it was a real pleasure to talk about mental health and psychological therapies with different researchers and experts in the industry.

 The speakers

One of the most interesting presentations was the one by Rita Paradiso, who spoke about the PSYCHE project and Wearable monitoring systems based on Smart Fibers and Interactive Textiles (SFIT), platforms that combine imperceptible sensing and computing functions with an interactive communication network.

 The interaction of sensors that collect “objective data” and also tracking tools like Dreamboard that collecting thoughts, sensations or even entire dreams will design our future. We will wake up in the morning and know exactly how we slept during the night, why we feel refreshed or not, and during the day we can monitor our feelings about specific situations, events and people and also be able to understand if the physical activity we are engaged in is right for us.

Another remarkable presentation, again in the neuroscientific and psychological field, was that of Paolo Decaro. Paolo developed the “A on Mars” project as a student in order to help autistic children get in touch with their emotions and with the world around them. “A on Mars” is a system composed of three devices: a wearable screen, a camera and a doll that follows the child through everyday life, helping him to understand the facial expressions of the people with whom he or she interacts. This is a great example of design at the service of people with problems that weigh heavily on the quality of their life.

Obviously there were many other interesting interventions on different subjects in this field, and we limit ourselves here to mentioning the ones most related to Dreamboard and our aims and experience, but you can read more about all of them at http://www.uxcon.com/.

We are grateful to the UX Conference and Sketchin team for the chance to meet so many people working to improve the daily life of every one of us, without distinction, and we are now more determined than ever to continue innovating, searching and discovering more and more ways to help people feel better in their mind and body.

 Keep on following us!

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Friday 18 October 2013

Paul McCartney was inspired by dreams

Hi Dreamboarders,

How are you? Are you still tracking your dreams?

Here is some good news for you: dreams seem to have a crucial role in improving individual creativity.

Throughout history, many artists in different fields have been ispired by dreams.

 Music

For example, who is not familiar with “Yesterday” sung by Paul McCartney, one of the most popular songs in the history of music. It was written by Paul McCartney after a dream. In a famous interview he declared, “I have no idea how I wrote that. I just woke up one morning and it was in my head.”

Have you ever felt the same way? Have you ever woken up with a newly-hatched idea in your mind?

Another milestone in the history of music, “Satisfaction”, came to Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones’ guitarist, during a dream after a concert on June 5, 1965.

 Literature

Literature is full of references dreams. Consider, for example, one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces, “A midsummer night dream” where the entire story takes place in a sort of dreamy atmosphere where everything seems possibile. Isn’t this just like our dreams?

Consider also something completely different and far more terrifying like “Frankestein” by Mary Shelley. The young writer, just 18 years old, was haunted by a scary conversation between Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelly and she saw “the pale student of unhallowed arts” (as she herself said) in her dreams the following night.

But also in contemporary literature there are many examples of authors being inspired by dreams. “The Twilight Saga”, for example, was born from a dream of Stefanie Myer in which she saw a young woman and a vampire falling in love despite a great number of difficulties.

 Art

A lot of artistists, both painters and sculptors, transferred scenes from their dreams into their works.

Man Ray, the American modernist artist who gave decisive input to Dadaism and Surrealism, used to say, “I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive.”

The most famous painter inspired by dreams was of course Salvador Dalí, from Spain. Everything in his works seems to be derived from oneiric visions, suspended in time and space.

What about you? Have you ever been creatively inspired by your dreams?