Gotta catch some Zs! New Pokemon Sleep Plans To Gamify Bedtime : NPR – News Block

This week, we got a trailer and the promise that in July we will have Pokémon Sleep. the game is “part virtual pet, part sleep tracking device.”


There is currently a vast ecosystem of Pokémon-related media. There are movies, TV shows, trading cards, video games…


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Pikachu) Pika pi (ph). Pikachu. Pikachu.


And nested there is a small portfolio of what could be called lifestyle related games. You have Pokémon GO, which encourages you to go out and catch Pokémon and maybe walk around a bit in the process. There’s also Pokémon Smile, meant to encourage kids and probably some adults to brush their teeth. And this week, we got a trailer and the promise that, in July, we’ll get Pokémon Sleep.

MICHAEL MCWHERTOR: The original pitch was that they wanted Pokémon players to look forward to waking up every morning using Pokémon Sleep.

ESTRIN: That’s Michael McWhertor, game writer for Polygon. He has been following Pokémon Sleep since it was initially announced in 2019. He describes the game as a virtual pet and sleep tracking device.

MCWHERTOR: So there’s a component of Pokemon Sleep that you play while you’re awake, and that’s taking care of and feeding a Pokemon called Snorlax.

DETROW: And if there isn’t a stuffed Snorlax in your house like mine is, it’s a more familiar large bear-like creature, if you can’t guess from the name…


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Snorlax, snoring.)

DETROW: …To snooze.


ERIC STUART: (As Brock) It’s a Snorlax.

VERONICA TAYLOR: (As Ash Ketchum) Is that a Snorlax?

RACHAEL LILLIS: (As Misty) Very good.

DETROW: At night, the in-game monitor collects data about your sleep.

MCWHERTOR: This is all done by placing your phone or a dedicated Bluetooth device next to your pillow while you sleep. They say you get sleep points by sleeping well and taking care of your Snorlax.

DETROW: So getting more and better sleep will also help you get better at the game.

ESTRIN: Now, if you’re thinking – what? A video game to help you sleep? Well, you wouldn’t be the only skeptic.

JOHN TOROUS: The irony of using screens to put people to sleep is not lost when perhaps the screens have been the cause of keeping people awake.

ESTRIN: Dr. John Torous is the director of digital psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where he researches sleep apps. And he says there’s plenty of data to support the benefits of sleep apps.

TOROUS: Dr. Torous, which apps have the best level of evidence for helping people with mental health disorders? – it’s often apps that target sleep and insomnia.

DETROW: Now, unlike other sleep apps and games, Pokemon Sleep is more about encouraging good sleep rather than recommending ways to improve sleep.

MCWHERTOR: This is kind of a fun, playful way to look at it without making it scientific or medical or sounding like some kind of recommended medical advice. I think they want to try to stay away from that.

DETROW: But big brands like Pokémon have a lot of power to get people to prioritize their own health, says John Torous.

TOROUS: For a certain part of the population, that gamification will boost engagement. And like any health routine or health tracker, commitment is key, right?

DETROW: Basically, Torous assumes that the Pokémon GO crowd can become the sleeping Pokémon GO crowd.


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