Gotta catch some Z’s!
A new mobile app called “Pokémon Sleep” is under scrutiny after several behavioral addiction professionals slammed the new video game for trying to profit off of insomniacs, reported Newsweek.
The app, which was released to the public in July, has already been downloaded by millions of fans.
“In the world of Pokémon Sleep, Pokémon with the same sleep type as you will gather around as you catch some Zs,” reads the app’s official description. “So discover all the various different sleep styles that Pokémon can have as you aim to complete your Sleep Style Dex.”
Those who use the app are automatically given a Snorlax — a very large and sleepy Pokémon — and incentivized to “raise Snorlax big and strong” by sleeping and befriending more Pokémon who, in turn, give Snorlax berries to eat.
The game reportedly tracks a user’s breathing patterns and movements through the smartphone’s microphone and accelerometer.
Once the player has woken up, they will receive rewards based on the quality of sleep.
Several experts have expressed their alarm over the fact that the video game may have “unintended consequences” such as causing users to compete with each other.
“Is it going to help you sleep more? No, because you’re not doing anything different other than lying on the pillow with a phone next to your head,” said Dr. David Chandross, a faculty member at Toronto Metropolitan University. “I think Pokémon is trying to make money off of people that are insomniacs. I don’t think they’re offering a real solution. It might be helpful. I distrust the motivation.”
Chadross added that a better concept might be an app that sets “achievable tiny goals.”
“Going to bed a little bit earlier, and tracking it, and then build that into a story, a narrative, that’s soft, what we call a cozy game. I think that is a better approach than competing with others to see who can snooze the most,” he said.
Chandross added that he believes “the general idea behind [Pokémon Sleep] promises much, but I think will deliver little.”
Another expert claimed that “gamifying” any behavior should be discouraged.
“My own view is that gamifying any behavior that results in individuals engaging in behaviors that are not good for them, in the long run, should not be encouraged,” said Dr. Mark Griffiths, a professor of Behavioral Addiction at Nottingham Trent University.
“There is nothing wrong in principle in trying to get people to sleep better but this is an example of where there may be unintended consequences that the game’s developers hadn’t fully thought through.”
The Post reached out to The Pokémon company for comment.
According to the game’s official website, the app is intended for “entertainment purposes only and is not intended for use in detection, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition or disease.”
Despite the warning, some users aren’t buying the app’s health-conscious premise.
“Not sure I love that we’re gamifying sleep now,” one X (formerly Twitter) user said.
“This is proof that we are living in a simulation/matrix,” declared another.
This is not the first Pokémon game to incentivize healthy habits.
In 2020, the company released a game called Pokémon Smile which targets younger children to get them to brush their teeth.