On 29 May, The Pokémon Company announced on Twitter that it will be introducing a new app called Pokémon Sleep.
As the name suggests, and similar to what the company did through Pokémon Go with walking, Pokémon Sleep looks to gamify sleep. Full details on how this gaming experience will work haven’t been released as of yet but, so far, the company has said it will ‘track a user’s time spent sleeping and bring a gameplay experience unlike any other!’.
When it was first released back in 2016, the original Pokémon Go app was a phenomenon. This augmented reality game was one of the most used and profitable mobile games of that year. It was able to achieve what many other apps, technology and health organisations have struggled to do – it got people of all ages to go outside and exercise. Players would walk around outside in an attempt to catch Pokémon and then battle these Pokémon against each other.
We are continually told that the habits we have in our childhood have a large impact on later life. There are also countless studies reporting how beneficial it is for your health to simply go for a walk. While many fans have continued to enjoy the brand into their later life, the primary target audience of the Pokémon franchise is 6-14 years old, and this app has successfully made exercising for this age group exciting. It has allowed children, teens and adults to go out together and try and find Pokémon in their local areas.
This new Pokémon Sleep app looks to recreate the same buzz, but instead it encourages us to sleep more in order to progress in the game. Research tells us that getting the correct amount of sleep, whatever our age, is extremely important as lack of sleep can be detrimental in a number of ways, for example, by affecting your immune system, mental well-being, and it can increase the chance of getting diabetes and heart disease. In younger people, this is even more important as their bodies are still developing, and sleep is an integral part of their growth.
We spoke to Dr Michael Farquhar from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) to discuss sleep, tech and Pokémon Sleep.
He said, “A recent paper by Prof Russell Viner, RCPCH President, and colleagues, demonstrated that good quality sleep is the single largest contributing factor to wellbeing for adolescents.”
“Apps can play a part in improving health, and apps like Pokemon Go, may encourage positive behaviour change. However, there is a very definite association between use of screen devices close to bedtime and poorer quality sleep and our general advice to children, young people (and their parents!) is that screen devices should not be used at bedtime or in the bedroom.”
“Apps which track sleep often have the effect of increasing worry and stress around sleep, so much so that for some people, their use can actually worsen sleep quality and quantity rather than improve it.”
“While finding ways to motivate children and young people to improve their sleep is welcome, using a screen-based app sleep monitor to do so is one that would need to be very carefully considered.”
Where next? Read last week’s story on how toddlers are only getting outside for 3 hours per week HERE