The Somni Mask is an attempt to trigger lucid dreams reliably through audio-visual stimuli.
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It tracks REM-specific eye movement and delivers its audio and visual stimuli accordingly.
The Somni Mask uses technology similar to NovaDreamer, and it appears to work well.
Scores of LD enthusiasts have already tested it. Some have used it to good effect.
The mask comes with an app through which users can tweak many of its settings.
Somni Mask seems like a promising solution for the reliable triggering of lucid dreams. With some more research and development, it may open the world of lucid dreams to science.
What is the Somni Mask?
Lucid dreaming represents an intriguing frontier for scientific research, the implications of which are virtually limitless. If we knew how to trigger lucid dreams reliably, we could use them for medical research, entertainment, skill enhancement (e.g., athletic performance improvement), science covering just about every domain, sleep research, and the exploration of out-of-body experiences.
The potential applications of lucid dreaming far exceed these obvious use-cases, however.
The problem with studying lucid dreams is that we have not found a way to trigger them reliably. Oneironauts know scores of supplements that may help bring about in-dream lucidity. And there may be other solutions, although we know nothing certain in this regard yet.
The Somni Mask pushes the boundaries of lucid dreaming science in the direction of audio-visual stimuli. Such stimulation relies on the detection of the REM sleep stage and the delivery of various light and sound cues to alert the sleeper that he/she is dreaming, thus triggering in-dream lucidity. The creators of the device have calibrated the stimuli to be strong enough to trigger lucidity but weak enough not to awaken the sleeper.
Lucid dreaming enthusiasts have long used the practice of reality checks to help them achieve lucidity in their dreams. The practice consists of performing reality checks throughout their waking day, like trying to push their fingers through the palm of their hand.
While awake, such exercises produce the expected result. By performing them with religious regularity, lucid dream enthusiasts can turn such reality checks into a habit, so much so that they will continue doing them in their dreams. There, however, the reality check produces a different result, alerting the dreamer and thus triggering lucidity.
Somni Sleep Mask produces reality-check-like cues, without the need on the part of users to go through the time-consuming task of developing a habit without much substance behind it.
The Technology of the Somni Mask
To achieve this type of audio and visual stimulation and deliver its stimuli at the right time, Somni Mask uses:
- Dedicated tracking sensors to detect REM-specific eye movement
- LED signal lights for the delivery of visual stimuli
- Earphones for the delivery of audio stimuli
- A settings interface for the tweaking of device parameters
- A battery to power the device. Users can charge this battery through a Micro USB port.
- An On/Off button.
The device does not use any wireless communication, thus its operation is 100 percent safe. We have been able to track the eye movements associated with REM sleep for a while. This is the capability that Somni Sleep uses to achieve its mission.
Furthermore, it is capable of filtering out false-positive signals. With the inclusion of an accelerometer, developers have endowed the device with a function that stops REM eye-movement tracking when the sleeper wakes up, tosses about in the bed, or moves his/her head. The sensors track REM eye movement for some time, confirming it before the device delivers its lucidity-inducing cues.
Does the Somni Mask Work? What do Users Say?
Unfortunately, nothing can guarantee the triggering of in-dream consciousness, but it is safe to say that the Somni Mask is your best bet in this respect. Many oneironauts have achieved lucidity with the help of the device and the reputation of the project is a solid one.
The crowd-funding supporters of the Somni Mask have contributed well over $100,000, placing their trust in the developers.
The theory behind how the Somni Mask promotes lucid dreaming is simple, reasonable, and realistic.
Let us assume that you are asleep. Entering a REM sleep stage, you begin dreaming. In your dream, you stroll along a tropical ocean coast, a lush forest on the other side. You suddenly hear a voice telling you that you are in a dream, and you see a few flashing lights. You realize you are dreaming, thus achieving lucidity.
Remembering to perform reality checks in a dream is quite a challenge. Thanks to the Somni Sleep Mask, your in-dream lucidity no longer hinges on such an unreliable exercise.
In the lucid dreaming community, the Somni Mask has garnered quite a suite of reviews, feedback, and following. Some of its users have only assessed its capabilities/usability in a couple of sentences. Others have taken the time to compile detailed accounts of their experiences with the device.
Below, we delve into this ocean of user feedback to give you as accurate an image of the efficacy of the platform as possible.
Somni Mask Product Page Feedback
The teething problems of the device are obvious through the prism of user feedback.
On its product page, some users have complained of late deliveries, missing components, and insufficient documentation regarding settings.
One user has brought several important issues into focus.
- To filter out possible false REM signals, the device only begins tracking eye movement five hours after the user turns it on. This way, detection efforts kick in toward the late stage of the seven-hour sleep cycle, where REM sleep becomes more and more predominant. The device features an alarm timer which may be set to 10 hours by default. Setting this function to five hours instead is recommended.
- The device uses the concept of “successful signals.” Following such signals, it goes into a “signal pause” mode to avoid the disruption of lucid dreams. Extending this pause period indefinitely is the best way to prevent the device from disrupting potentially successful in-dream lucidity episodes. A successful signal is presumably one that takes place after REM eye-movement detection that the device deemed successful and confirmed.
According to the product page feedback, the developers encountered some problems with the delivery of devices. Backers found some of the delivered ones faulty or not working.
Other backers have encouraged the developers to take their time testing the product. Given the potential of the Somni Mask, it would make sense for developers not to ruin the rollout of the masks with bugs and various mundane technical problems. That said, the project did have more than its fair share of such problems.
Many people have decided to take to Reddit to share their experiences with the Somni mask and discuss various issues related to the device with other owners.
Somni Mask Reddit Discussions, Reviews, Feedback
One person using the Somni Mask has been especially thorough in reviewing and testing the device. He also shared his findings with the LD community.
This person reports that he has been having lucid dreams since 1996 and he decided to give the Somni Mask a try, based on his experience with the NovaDreamer, another LD-induction solution using REM detection and audio/visual cues.
The sensor module of the sleep mask goes directly over the eye. Those who order the product can choose the placement of the sensor over the right or left eye.
The reviewer has found the mask to be solidly built, lightweight, and suitable for wearing as a regular sleep mask.
According to the limited instructions that come with the product, to wash the mask, the user should remove the sensor module. The reviewer has found this to be impossible, however. The module seems very well attached to the mask.
The product comes with an app that allows the user to tweak scores of settings. Such settings include:
- The audio signal volume
- The intensity of the light signal
- The frequency of the light signal
- The sensitivity of the accelerometer that detects the head movements
- The number of detected eye movements until a positive REM reading is confirmed
- The sensitivity of the eye sensor
- The relax pause, signal pause, and head movement pause
Other variables with which the user can experiment are the alarm clock timer and volume and the relaxing music volume.
The audio file the device plays as the LD-triggering audio cue is an mp3 file. The default sound is some relaxing music, accompanied by a woman’s voice stating that “this is a dream.” According to user reports, this audio cue works exceptionally well as an in-dream lucidity trigger.
That said, users can insert their own audio file in its stead, as long as they keep the same file name.
The person who provided this valuable feedback got in touch with the developers of the Somni Mask, looking to iron out a few glitches and find out what the different modes of the power button did.
The mask this person tested was not fully ready as it had a few glitches. During the first night of use, it kept detecting REM sleep and delivering lucidity signals. A tweaking of the sensor sensitivity should have addressed that issue, but it did not. According to the developers, there was a glitch that prevented the re-setting of sensitivity from going into effect.
Having reprogrammed the device based on the instructions of the developers, the user managed to achieve in-dream lucidity on his fourth night of testing. He had a dream about looking for his SuperBowl seat when some reporters started taking his picture in unison, using red flashbulbs. As soon as he recognized the light signals as the visual cues of the mask, he achieved lucidity.
That night, the user remained in a lucid dream for a little over four and a half minutes, according to the Somni Mask’s log. The user remembered the dream well and reported having a very high degree of control in it.
A few nights later, the same user reported another lucid dream, even though he had consumed some alcohol the day before.
The interesting part of the new experience was that it came about due to an audio cue.
The user missed the visual cues that had worked well some nights before. At one point in the dream, his own recorded voice told him he was in a dream and the mask was attempting to “awaken” him to lucidity. As soon as he heard the cue, he achieved lucidity and remained in the dream for 30 seconds.
The user review/report concludes that you will probably have to fine-tune the settings of your device for optimal results. This is especially true if you find that the audio and visual stimuli are strong enough to awaken you or the device consistently interferes with your sleep.
Although far from being glitch-free, the device successfully and consistently induced lucid dreams in an experienced lucid dream enthusiast. That means the potential is certainly there, and all it may require is a little bit of fine-tuning of the technology to produce a reliable way of inducing lucid dreams.
Other users of the device declared themselves impressed with its capabilities as well. Some were enthused about the endless potential of the audio component. There were a handful of others who have reported successful lucid dreaming episodes the mask had helped them achieve.
So how does the Somni Mask shape up thus far based on user recommendations? It is a promising technology, but it is still raw and requires more tweaking.
The mentioned user, who provided the discussed insights and dream reports, said that he was a technically-inclined person, for whom manually reprogramming the device did not present a challenge. That may not be the case for everyone. It is also true, however, that according to his account, the developers offered to send him a new, glitch-free mask that did not require manual reprogramming.
Many in the lucid dreaming community believe that the Somni Mask, or a device like it, may finally provide a way to trigger lucid dreams reliably. Such an accomplishment would open the path for science and novel ways of using the power of dreams to improve our waking existence.
Somni Mask Review Conclusion
Can the Somni Mask deliver on this promise?
It might. It is certainly a product worthy of your attention if you are intrigued by the realm of lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences.