ONCE, the only way you could supposedly influence your dreams was by regulating your cheese consumption before bed. These days, however, things are little more hi-tech. Scientists have invented a phone app they claim lets you create your perfect dream, by playing a ‘soundscape’ that subliminally influences the sleeping mind. Users can take their pick from peaceful rural settings, busy street scenes, or even dramatic adventures set in space.

While it may sound rather like a sinister plot from a science fiction film, Professor Richard Wiseman, who helped develop the programme, believes it could aid those who suffer from sleeping disorders or depression.

The Hertfordshire University psychologist plans to collect thousands of records from users of the app as part of a mass experiment for the Edinburgh International Science Festival to find out how easy it is to influence dreams.

The app, called Dream: ON, is free and can be downloaded by iPhone users from today. An Android version is planned for later in the year. Before going to bed, the user selects the time they want to wake up and chooses their ideal dream scenario.

They then put their phone face down on the mattress - ideally close to their head - and it uses a motion sensor to detect when the sleeper is dreaming.

During the night, we pass through cycles made up of three different stages of sleep. During deep and light sleep, the first two stages, we are restless in bed. But during rapid eye movement, or REM sleep - the time in which we dream - the brain paralyses the body so we don’t act out our dreams and harm ourselves. The app waits until the last period of REM sleep before the chosen waking time, then plays the soundscape.                          –Daily Mail