iOS and Android Game Reviews

Pokemon Sleep and Pokemon GO Plus + Review – Part 3 (Using the “Fun” of Pokemon to Motivate You to Better Sleep Habits)

So as you’ve been reading the last few days, the Pokemon Sleep app was just the thing I needed to come out of “retirement”. Granted, I doubt there’s anyone left who used to read this blog back when it was called “” fourteen years ago. But if you’re out there, thanks for coming back đŸ™‚

A lot has changed in my life over the last decade and a half. I got married, had a daughter, and grew more than a few grey hairs. Weight loss is still a concern for me, but even more so are things like blood pressure and heart health.

A few months ago, I learned that a friend of mine nearing his 60’s that he had a heart attack. I talked to him on the phone and he said that he kept himself in great shape, but the only thing he didn’t do right was get much sleep each night, and that’s what triggered his health issues. Thankfully, he’s on the road to recovery, but it was a wake-up call (no pun intended) to me to get my own terrible sleep habits in order. Since our company started supporting remote work, I find myself often working until 3am, only to realize that I hadn’t fallen asleep yet and I have a call at 9am.

So this device and app couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m the kind of person who needs a little nudge to remind me to get off the computer and go to bed. My wife, bless her heart, tries every night to politely remind me “you should go to bed”. I say, “okay”, but then I end up spending two more hours on the computer. But since this app came into my life, I find myself panicking 10 minutes before my bedtime for fear that I’m not going to get “full credit” for my sleep tomorrow. I think this is precisely what Satoru Iwata had in mind. If there’s something that the Pokemon Company and Nintendo messed up with, it’s targeting younger people who can routinely pull all-nighters without missing a beat rather than Gen X’ers like myself who are starting to look for ways to buy ourselves just a few more years on this wonderful planet.

On to Day 3 of my experience with Pokemon Sleep and Pokemon GO Plus +.

Yesterday I covered all the “scientific” thought that went into the design of the app. Today, we’ll focus a little more on the “fun”.

When you think about it, the “fun” has been the missing component to getting people to build healthy habits like exercise and sleep.

We’ve covered the “exercise” part 14 years ago with Nintendo’s innovations around the Wii and the Wii U to promote exercise. In many ways, the Switch has continued some of this, and now that I have a Switch, I’ll be (belatedly) reviewing some of those games.

But to be honest, the “exercise game” of choice for me has been Pokemon GO (I’ve walked more than 8,000 miles with it), so the introduction of Pokemon Sleep is perfect for me.

We’ve been hearing on talk shows about the “sleep cycles” and “REM sleep” for years, but it generally goes in one ear and out the other. But a game like this is just the thing to bring the addictive qualities of video games and to use them to push us to building good habits.

So did the device finally get it right on Day 3?

Yes, it did. I woke up, clicked on the middle button for a few seconds, and the button flashed different colors and chimed with Pikachu’s frenetic voice.

I opened my app and clicked on the button to connect to the device. The device vibrated, which gave me hope that the app had connected.

connection issues with pokemon Go plus +

To my dismay, I got this message.

Pokemon Go Plus not found. Please check that it is nearby and not in sleep tracking mode

I groaned to myself. Does this mean that for a SECOND day my sleep wasn’t being tracked, and in fact today I had no data at all? I started to really regret paying $55 for this thing.

They say that the definition of insanity is to try something over and over again and expect different results. But I kept on pressing the button again and again. I got this same message three times, but on the fourth time I saw this.

Sleep data found in the Pokemon Go Plus +

I let out a sigh of relief. But of course, now that I saw the confirmation of “Sleep data found in the Pokemon GO Plus +”, the next question is…how much data did it get this time?

I saw today’s date show up, which was a good sign.

session 2

And then I saw that I was “credited” with the full 7 hours and 46 minutes, which felt great. I think the difference that I didn’t put the device so close to me that I could roll over it, but not too far that it couldn’t sense my movement during the night.

sleep duration screen

I should say that it didn’t just feel great to see that the device and the app were actually working. I felt great because I’d gotten a solid night of sleep for the first time in weeks. The thought of my Snorlax being undernourished or not attracting my favorite Pokemon was enough to push me to go to bed at a semi-reasonable hour (for me at least).

Even more impressive, when I saw the “Sleep Graph” I could see my sleep cycles, from N1 to N2 to N3 and back and forth. I have no recollection what happened at 7 AM, but clearly whatever it was, I drifted back to sleep again.

sleep cycles pokemon sleep

Honestly I don’t know how much of this is truly accurate and how much is smoke and mirrors, but that’s almost beside the point. It got me to bed on time, it got me to sleep through the night, and the dopamine rush from seeing my sleep cycle alone turns sleep from a “chore” into something interesting.

But of course, “interesting” lasts only a short time, and that’s where the “fun” part comes in. Did The Pokemon Company, their developer Select Button, and Nintendo do a good job of extending the Pokemon brand in this new way while still keeping it fresh? There have been over 75 different Pokemon video games, not even counting the card game that started it all. How many times can we “catch them all”?

Well, happily, The Nintendo Company is known for being very protective of its IP, and this is not different. First, the Pokemon in this game (as well as other similar mobile games like Pokemon Smile) are rendered as cartoons, I believe so they don’t cause confusion with the most modern games like Pokemon Scarlet, Pokemon Violet, and Pokemon GO. But the art was done in such a detailed way, the storyline “works” within the Pokemon universe, and the little details of gameplay are unique enough that I believe this experience stands on its own.

The “Pokemon” Part of Pokemon Sleep

I’ll have to admit, as simple and straightforward as the sleep tracking functions are, it’s the Pokemon gameplay aspects of the app that I find a bit overwhelming from the get-go. There are concepts like Sleep Styles, a Sleep Dex, Recipes, Drowsy Power, and a dizzying number of new concepts.

Let’s start with the first one: Drowsy Power.

Tutorial: Drowsy Power

drowsy power

Finally, let’s turn our attention to Drowsy Power. You see, Drowsy Power is what I call the mysterious power that Snorlax on these island possess. It’s a power that seems to both draw Pokemon close and lull them to sleep. This power depends on a Snorlax’s Strength (how much it has grown) and your sleep time. By increasing this power, you can get lots of different Pokemon to come sleep near Snorlax. And then, you may discover some of the rare sleep styles they can display.

Pokedex entries from Generation I to the latest Generation VIII talk about Snorlax’s gluttony and its propensity for sleep, and they go as far to say that children and small Pokemon have been known to play on his belly, but it wasn’t until now that it had the power to lull others around it to sleep. But it’s a little expansion of the canon that makes perfect sense.

I skipped through these screens at first, but in many ways they’re the most important part of the introductory tutorials because they explain the premise of this game. Your goal, like every other Pokemon game, is to “catch them all”, but the way to “catch them” is to lure them near your Snorlax. The higher your Snorlax’s “Drowsy Power”, the more variety of Pokemon will come to you. Each kind of Pokemon will have a certain sleep style, but different Pokemon within each kind will have different “sleep styles”. As you attract different Pokemon with different sleep styles, you’ll start putting together your “Sleep Style Dex”, which will consist of the familiar Pokemon we’ve known for years, but different ones will have different styles of sleep, ensuring an exponential number of variations of Pokemon PLUS sleep styles to collect, something needed if this app is going to be used for months or years.

Here’s what my Drowsy Power was after the first day (the one that didn’t register my complete night of sleep).

drowsy power


I’m sure my score of 1,080,000 would have been higher with a fuller night of sleep and a working Pokemon GO Plus +, but I’ll take it!

And here’s the good Professor’s excited reaction:

It appears that Snorlax's Drowsy Power has drawn a small crowd here to sleep!

Surely enough sleeping around my Snorlax were some adorable Pokemon curled up and sound asleep. sleeping pokemon

The next step was to swipe around the screen to look for new Pokemon who were sleeping near Snorlax. While this was certainly fun, I question whether over time this isn’t going to get a little annoying each morning. I hope in a future update they give an option to just claim every day’s new entrants.

One nice thing about the “Sleep Style Dex” is that it adds a whole new dimension to Pokemon lore. As with any Poke Dex, you can read a little bio about the creature’s sleep habits, as well as view little videos of them sleeping. It’s adorable!

Sleep style dex - charmander

Whenever you discover a new sleep style, you’ll get a screen that looks like this:

meowth sleep style

Followed by the style name…

…and of course the Dex entry.

From Professor Neroli:

You’ll find that each species of Pokemon can be classified as having a particular sleep type. And your sleep type for a given session will cause Pokemon with that same sleep type to gather. 

In my case, my sleep type was deemed to be “Snoozing” for my first day, which is what brought Charmander and Pikachu there (Snoozing-type Pokemon tend to include Fire and Electric types). Not sure how Meowth snuck in there.

Presumably, as long as your sleep goes through all the cycles you’ll eventually have a lot of different varieties of Pokemon and sleep types (i.e., they won’t force you to sleep for 1 hour one night just to get the “Dozing” types :P)

Once you “catch them all” for the day, you’ll get a congratulations screen.

So far, so good. But next time I’ll start talking you through some of the more “advanced” concepts in this game, including Missions, Friendship Points, Biscuits, Berries, Recipes, Sleep Passes and other new concepts in this game that may seem off-putting at first, but make sense once you climb the learning curve.

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