Gotta catch’em all! Catch all those Zs, that is.
Now available in the U.S., Pokémon Sleep is an app that “turns sleep into entertainment.” Thankfully, the app does not imbue your brain with sonic waves that make you dream of Hypno, a Pokémon that gave me vivid nightmares as a child. Instead, you simply place your phone next to your pillow while you sleep, and when you wake up, you can see how you slept.
Of course, what differentiates this from the oodles of other sleep tracking apps is that there are Pokémon involved. When you start the game, you meet Professor Neroli, a Pokémon sleep researcher (we applaud the amount of funding available in the Pokémon universe to support academics, but are nonetheless surprised that this field of study exists). He gives you some sort of sleep device to fill the plot hole we’re all wondering about, which is how our human sleep is supposed to relate to the sleep of Pokémon. It turns out that if you go to bed before your set bedtime, you get in-game rewards.
This sounds like an app made by a sleep-deprived engineer whose kids love Pokémon, but don’t love going to bed at an appropriate hour. Unfortunately, when I was a kid, I probably would’ve accepted Pokémon rewards to go to sleep, so long as those rewards did not involve Hypno, who remains quite creepy in my book, but hey, at least Mimikyu didn’t exist back in my day.
Aside from a partner Pikachu, you start off the game with a big ol’ sleepy Snorlax. The more you sleep, the more “drowsy power” your Snorlax gets, and that power helps you meet even more Pokémon. If you connect a Pokémon GO Plus — a device that connects to your phone to help you catch more Pokémon in Pokémon GO — you can get a Pikachu that has a sleeping cap. And then in Pokémon GO, you’ll get a Snorlax with a sleeping cap.
The app might seem like it came out of left field, but the Pokémon Company has been promoting it for over four years — at Pokémon GO Fest events as early as 2019, you could catch Unown that spelled out “SLEEP.” But in practice, Pokémon Sleep seems like an elaborate ploy to sell more Pokémon GO Pluses and/or some Pokémon engineers just got really creative in the pursuit to make their kids go to bed. If it works, though, go figure!