Edit: Added a bit, 9/10/11
As the name implies, Lucid Dreaming App is a smartphone app (Android only; aren't I glad that I listened to my cousin when he told me I was too smart to want an iPhone) that helps you to acheive lucid dreaming. It is also useful if you want to monitor how much sleep you are getting every night. It is pretty sophisticated, and the official website throws a lot of information at the new user. I'm writing a summary and set of instructions for the benefit of myself and others who want a simple guide.
How does it work?
- You have to sleep with the phone lying next to you on the mattress every night. If you sleep with a partner, the app won't work so well.
- For at least several nights, you need to build a record of your sleep cycles so that the app can predict when you will be in REM sleep. This involves 1) the phone's built-in accelerometer recording how much you move around at night, and 2) whenever you wake up from a dream, you interact with the screen to tell it that you were just dreaming.
- Once you know (the app knows) the timing of your sleep cycle, you set the app to play a sound, vibrate, and/or flash the screen at certain times of the night. When you experience these stimuli in the middle of a dream, they should help you to figure out that you're dreaming (DILD). Since the app is still monitoring your sleep based on the methods that I described in the above bullet point, it can automatically adjust the timing of these stimuli, for example if it takes you longer to fall asleep than usual.
- If you want to instead enter a lucid dream from a wakeful state (WILD), there is a different feature to help with that by playing sounds or vibrating to keep you awake.
The first thing you need to do after installing the app is calibrate the accelerometer.
- On the splash screen with the spiffy artwork, press your phone's menu button, then select "Preferences".
- While you are here, you might as well uncheck "Play voice reminders", since you won't want that for the first few nights.
- Select "Calibrate device sensors"-->"Start accelerometer calibration".
- Follow the on-screen instructions. The method you use will depend on your phone.
Ready to go to sleep? Back on the splash screen, press your phone's menu button, then press "Start". You'll see a digital clock displaying the time. The app is now recording movement and noise levels. The website recommends leaving your phone plugged in all night, but I just locked the screen to save power and there was plenty of battery to get it through the night. (Perhaps some phones don't record accelerometer data with the screen locked, but my Motorola Droid 3 does.) Whenever you wake up from a dream, unlock your screen and draw an arrow pointing to the right over the clock to record the time that you woke up from the dream. You can also draw a circle or an arrow pointing to the left to indicate that you woke up without memory of dreaming.
When you are ready to get up in the morning, press your phone's menu button, then "Exit". This stops the motion and sound recording.
You now have a graph of your sleep last night! Exciting! To view it, press the menu button from the flash screen, then "View Data". You'll be directed to a help page, but just press the menu button again, then "Load Graph". There should be a file named by the date and time when you started recording. Select it. The graph may appear to have information overload, but scroll down and uncheck a few things like "Audio Level Kurtosis". ("Kurtosis" is a statistics word. If you don't jump up and do a happy dance every time you hear the word "statistics", you probably aren't interested in that particular graph.)
The "Sleep Episodes" line shows when you were asleep (it dips down for periods when you were awake). If you keep scrolling down you'll also have a pie chart showing how much of the night you spent asleep and awake. Back on the graph, "XYZ Activity Count" and "Sleep Score" show how much you were moving around, and "Audio Level" shows how much noise there was. You'll also notice little triangles for every time you told the phone you were dreaming, and circles for every time you told the phone that you were awake but hadn't been dreaming. You can ignore the X's for now, since those just show when the phone would have been making noise/vibrating/flashing if you hadn't unchecked "Play voice reminders".
Record a few more nights of sleep, then use the "view history" feature to see how they match up with each other and with the typical person's sleep cycle. First, in the Application Data -> Lucid Dreaming App -> Graph Data folder in your phone's memory, you should either delete (using your file manager) the sample graph that came with the app, or, if you have OI File Manager installed, make a subfolder and put up to seven graph files into it. Then, from within the app, select Menu -> View Data -> Menu -> View History -> Menu -> Create History. If you have OI File Manager, you can then select the folder with your graphs in it. Once the summary chart is created, personally I think the most useful thing is to see when you are waking up from dreams and if this is following the expected REM periods. Of course, the accelerometer data is summarized here as well so that you can see if it matches the expected REM periods.
If it looks like you have different REM periods than what came pre-programmed into the app, there are instructions for how to change them.
Menu -> Preferences -> REM Prediction Preferences -> Select Smart Timer configuration file. BlankSmartTimerConfig.txt.gzip. Touch events, activate ones you want reminders for. Can also change timing in here.