So, I went to bed at about 1:00am last night and woke up around 7:16am. Here are my updated experiences with the Pokemon Sleep app and the Pokemon GO Plus + hardware device.
The first unpleasant surprise I had was that when I clicked the middle button to tell the Pokemon GO Plus + that I woke up, Pikachu started singing a lullaby again. Which means that sometime during the night—when I was sound asleep—the device decided to stop tracking my sleep. That’s something that Nintendo needs to fix.
As I would later find out, the device stopped tracking at 3:18am. I don’t recall getting up at that time, so the device must have detected something during that night that made it think that I woke up, probably that I had my air conditioner set to turn off around that time (it’s possible that when that happened I tossed and turned in my sleep). Anyway, that seems to be a major flaw in the app: they really need to make it so that the device continues to track until I explicitly tell it not to.
Anyway, I started up the Pokemon Sleep app this morning and was greeted by Professor Neroli.
On the next screen I had the option to finally start the “Sleep Research Tutorial”, something I definitely recommend as I was to later learn that this app isn’t as intuitive as it probably should be.
The first thing I saw was my “sleep report” for this day.
Tutorial: Understanding Your Sleep Score
The first tutorial is called “Understanding Your Sleep Score”. I don’t like the fact that you can’t go back and read Professor Neroli’s tutorials once you finished them, so I’ll transcribe what he said here.
Here you can see both how long you slept and your sleep score for this session. An adult can reach a sleep score of 100 by making sure they get at least 8.5 hours of sleep. Your goal is to reach 100, so try to get as much sleep as you can.
Here was my Sleep duration for the night, which as I said robbed me of about 4 hours of sleep. I wasn’t happy, but it’s still early so we’ll see if this happens again through the week.
Next, you’ll be sent to the next tutorial.
Tutorial: The Different Sleep Stages
Next, let’s look at your different sleep stages. These sleep stages help show how deep your sleep is. When tracking your sleep, I classify it into three stages: Dozing, Snoozing, and Slumbering. Try to keep an eye on how your sleep fluctuates over time.
It looks like this is confirming what I mentioned yesterday: that Nintendo is taking the sleep cycles of NREM sleep and making it more accessible to the general population. “Dozing” appears to correspond to N1 (Stage 1) or “Light Sleep”, “Snoozing” corresponds to N2 (Stage 2) or “Deeper Sleep”, and “Slumbering” corresponds to N3 (Stage 3) or “Deepest Non-REM Sleep” as well as “REM Sleep”.
Here’s what my chart looked like.
Here was the jaw-dropping moment for me. After syncing my sleep data for the first time, I could see a graph of my sleep during the night. The app didn’t just track how much sleep I got, but through the night I could see my sleep pattern, going from N1 (“Dozing”) to N2 (“Snoozing”) to N3 and REM (“slumbering”) sleep, and how much time I spent in each cycle. It also tracked the time it took me to fall asleep.
This was the “a-ha” moment for me that convinced me that this isn’t just a gimmick but an actual sleep tracking device. As you can see, after I fell asleep at 1am, the Pokemon GO Plus+ device tracked me as I went from Stage 1 to Stage 3 to Stage 2, fluctuated between Stage 1 and Stage 2, and eventually fell into REM sleep. Like I said, that cutoff at 3:18am was not accurate, so it’s missing the next 4 hours of sleep.
Going in I thought this was a simple device just to time my sleep, but in reality it’s much more sophisticated than that. There’s an internal accelerometer in the device which is evidently super-sensitive, and it can detect my movements during sleep. Nintendo filed for a patent for this in 2019, and this is evidently the result.
Tutorial: Sleep Types
Next, Pokemon Sleep will classify your Sleep Type.
Here’s what the good professor had to say in full:
This next screen is where you can see your sleep type. Your sleep type captures the qualities of that sleep session and is decided based on comparison with your past sleep. When you don’t have much data yet, your sleep will instead be compared to generic sleep data. Build up your own data to be used for comparison, and the precision of these measurements will keep going up. I ask you to do your best to track your sleep every single day, without fail!
The demonstration numbers shown in the screenshot are roughly equivalent to the averages that a typical adult spends in each stage (credit to the NIH Web site for this info).
- N1 – Light Sleep – 5%
- N2 – Deeper Sleep – 45%
- N3 – Deepest Non-REM Sleep – 25%
- REM – 25%
I didn’t have enough sleep recorded for it to give me my own numbers, but it did give me my “Sleep Type” as “Snoozing”, which means I got out of light sleep but not quite into REM sleep where the health benefits are the strongest.
As I said, it only caught 2 hours and 18 minutes, so if it captured my whole sleep cycle it may have given me different results. Let’s hope the device is more accurate in the weeks ahead.
What I love about this device and this app is how it makes these otherwise esoteric concepts more accessible to the general public, and helps us manage our sleep better. I plan on using it to get from my current bad habits (since I started working from home my sleep habits have been terrible; I lose track of time and sometimes go to sleep at 3am and getting only an hour or two a night). This app, with no exaggeration, may very well save my life, since I myself am getting up there in age. For younger people, survival may not be your #1 goal, but this app can help build good sleep habits that will help you for a lifetime. With good sleep comes high productivity, better health, good metabolism, and better mental health.
Update: Weekly Summary of Sleep
A Pokemon Sleep week lasts for 7 days and goes from Monday to Sunday. On the following Monday, you’ll get a letter grade for your “Sleep Consistency” based on your week of sleep. Here’s the grade I got after my first week, along with some visuals showing my sleep pattern for the short week since I started.
Really nothing surprising here. It was my first week of playing, the device didn’t really work on Thursday, but on Saturday and Sunday the device did work and I just didn’t get a decent night of sleep for either night. Not coincidentally, it was Friday that I did get a full night of sleep and felt fantastic the whole day.
I’m reading some of the early reviews and blog posts about this app, and every now and again I see a note about how to “game the system”. I can’t help but chuckle at people who are so used to cheating that they’ll even cheat on a game like this. Obviously, the point here is not to win the game, but to use the mechanics of the game to provide an additional motivation to improve your health. But I suppose there are some in our society who just want to “win” at any cost.
After your “grade” you can see some statistics about your sleep, including how long it took you to fall asleep, your average duration of sleep, the total time you slept, and your wake up times. You can use this data every night to look for patterns to help you shake some bad habits or to give you a chance at better sleep.
For the next review, I’ll dive deeper into the more fun “Pokemon-y” aspects of the game. Perhaps the most powerful thing about this game isn’t the impressive technology, but how it uses tried-and-true Pokemon gameplay as a motivation to get you to be consistent.