During January’s Super Bowl, Harvard University dream researcher Deirdre Barrett collaborated with brewer Molson Coors in a marketing test.
The night before the game, volunteers watched a 90-second online video featuring waterfalls and mountain scenery – both of which feature in Coors’ logos – coupled with an eight-hour, overnight soundtrack featuring breezes, sounds of nature, and the sounds of refreshing beverages splashing into a glass.
The instructions: watch the video three times, start the soundtrack, go to sleep, and see what happens.
Anyone who invited a friend to join the test collected a chit good for a free 12-pack of Coors seltzer.
On waking, five of 18 people Barrett monitored reported dreaming about Coors’ drinks.
A 2018 study by a group of Chinese hospitals and research laboratories found that “presenting the spoken name of a familiar, valued snack item during a midday nap significantly improves the preference for that item” over others and the best timing for the message “can be predicted by…neurophysiological signals.”
“Dream incubation,” an expanding collection of techniques designed to plant dream suggestions in your mind, dates back to ancient Egypt.
Now technology is giving the practice a new suite of tools.
A cognitive scientist at MIT has invented a glove that monitors sleep patterns and subtly directs the wearer to dream about specific topics by playing relevant sounds when the sleeper’s mind is most susceptible.
Researchers know when those moments arrive by tracking brain waves and eye movements and have shown that sounds, smells, and other stimuli can plant seeds of specific subjects that make their way into dreams.
Granted, none of us go to bed wearing MIT’s glove or electrodes taped to our skulls.
However, 40 million Americans now have Alexa or some other version of a smart speaker in our bedrooms, according to’s 2020 Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report.
The speakers could be programmed to detect breathing patterns indicating particular stages of sleep, then launch audio cues planting topics in your mind to dream about, critics of the new science of “targeted dream incubation” fear.
Burger King, Microsoft, Xbox, and two airlines are among the companies that have contacted dream researchers about incubation ventures, according to Science magazine.
Now 40 dream researchers have published an on-line letter raising the alarm about targeted dream incubation and calling for “proactive action and new protective policies” to defend the integrity of our dreams.
TRENDPOST: Although researchers disagree about the details, they widely agree that the mind uses dreams to sort, organize, interpret, cope with, store, and discard experiences and information we’ve taken on during the day.
If our dreams become corporate billboards, the function of dreams will be hijacked. Although the effects of co-opting our dreams can’t be known, they’re likely to be detrimental to our mental health.

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