Pokémon Sleep is the newest project released by The Pokemon Company, an app designed to track sleep with the goal of providing Pokéfans with a new way to catch Pokemon and encouraging players to prioritise a good night's rest.
Catching them all has been an obsession of mine for quite some time. From my first expedition into the Sinnoh region in Pokémon Diamond to my real-world experience in Pokémon Go, I’m always looking for new ways to experience the wonderful world of the pocket monster. So when I heard about a new game which let me catch these little critters in my sleep, I was chomping at the bit to jump into bed and settle in for a night full of Pokémon catching.
Unfortunately, my excitement may have gotten the better of me. As I settled in for yet another night with Pokémon Sleep, all I could think about was the Bulbasaur I failed to befriend the day before and how I hoped I could get another chance once I woke up. In my excitement, I had what the app called a “Dozing Type Sleep”, meaning from 2am, I woke up every hour checking the app for any updates or to simply see what time it was.
You can forget about simply placing your phone on a bedside table as this confuses the app into thinking you’re dead or out and about, as it can’t sense movement. I opted to keep my phone next to me for the most optimal readings, and as it turns out, having an electronic object next to your head that can light up your room isn’t the best way to get a restful sleep.
Players can opt to use the Pokémon Go Plus ball as a replacement for their phone. However, this alternative is pricey and will likely still wake you up in increments. Its constant vibrations are impossible to turn off unless you want to break the device permanently.
Suffering from success
Getting that much-need rest wouldn’t be so hard if Pokémon Sleep wasn’t so engaging, fun to play, and expertly made. All of this means that logging in the morning and throughout the day is a genuine joy.
For a free-to-play mobile game, Pokémon Sleep has a fantastic UI. I love how you navigate the app and access different tasks and Pokémon. Everything is clear and adorably labelled in classic Pokémon art style; it’s easy to navigate and fun to do so, as it feels like your phone is transformed into your own Pokedex. In fact, this UI is infinitely more inviting than Pokémon Go’s, for example. Obviously, players have come to expect this kind of expertise from The Pokemon Company, but it’s nice to see that the devs aren’t resting their heads, at least.
It isn’t just a fantastic UI that keeps beckoning me back; the game behind Pokémon Sleep is simple but surprisingly enthralling. Travelling to different Snorlax-filled islands in search of new Pokemon and sleep styles may not sound engaging, but it is, in fact, a brilliant way to pass the time and relax before bed.
Cooking Snorlax’s favorite dish, rummaging in the undergrowth for vibrant berries with your Pokémon pals, or feeding delicious Pokémon ball-themed cookies to your new friends is my newfound bedtime routine, and I absolutely love it.
Misses the mark
While the features behind Pokemon Sleep are undoubtedly fantastic, it fails to deliver on its central premise, ensuring you get a good night's sleep. There is only so much an app can do to aid a healthy bedtime routine. However, through its use of studying your sleep patterns, players are meant to uncover how to best go about tucking into bed.
In reality, having a phone on your bed next to your head may help the app better understand your sleep cycle, but at what cost? Sleeping next to my phone led to some of the worst nights I’ve ever had, as something in my brain kept waking me up to check on my progress.
The analysis in Pokémon Sleep is also pretty minimal. If you access your sleep data, you’ll be able to see how long you slept each night, access recordings, and see a table reflecting your sleep pattern. While it's cool information to have displayed in a clean and helpful manner, it isn’t actually very accurate, nor does it give players enough information to help them sort out healthy resting patterns.
If you’re looking for an app that’ll help you understand cycles and have more information, such as REM sleep, then there are a ton of great options out there to help you. Although if you are committed to Pokémon Sleep, then read up on the best tips to catch better ZZZs and Pokémon.
Over the last couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of maintenance and updates for Pokémon Sleep. While none has addressed broader issues with recording sleep patterns, many have slowly made the game easier to play. It’s a sign that the devs haven’t simply washed their hands of this app after launch and that this game is intended to last for the full 40 winks.
Hopefully, in the future, this means more accurate readings and a better way to analyse sleep patterns that don’t involve sleeping next to your phone or a buzzing Pokémon ball. In the meantime, I’ll be waking up every hour with a phone stuck to my face, desperate to make sure every single bit of sleep is being checked.
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Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications.
Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.