Every gamer knows the feeling. You’re enjoying your favorite game, when all of the sudden: the sun rises, the clock reads 6 A.M., and you realize that you’ve accidentally played through the night. We’ve all done it! Don’t lie to me and say that you haven’t. Just accept that we’ve chosen to walk the Gamer’s Path. Curse our squishy, human bodies for needing to shut down for a third of every day! If only we could play Tears of the Kingdom forever.
Well, those diabolical geniuses over at Nintendo were listening—and they’ve somehow done the impossible yet again. Enter Pokémon Sleep, which is a combination of two totally disparate things: a sleep tracker and a video game. Has Nintendo finally created a title that you can play when you’re unconscious? Is 24/7 gaming now a reality?! Surprisingly… yes. In just my short time with the game so far, the mobile app is clearly more than a glorified alarm clock. Pokémon Sleep is the most intriguing experience the popular collect ’em all franchise has created in recent memory. Well, at least since Pokémon Go had me running around outside at night, pointing my phone at trees.
Pokemon Sleep is clearly meant to teach a younger audience how create good sleep habits. The thing is? I can actually see it working.
Here’s the gist: like any sleep-tracking app, Pokémon Sleep needs to sit on your bedside, listening to and registering every toss and turn. Based on how well you slumber, different Pokémon will appear in the morning. If you were restless all night, maybe you’ll see an exhausted Pikachu. But get the recommended amount of deep, well-rested sleep, and your Pokémon Sleep camp will be full of slumbering creatures. Pokémon Sleep also boasts a full Pokédex of adorable entries, all of which describe various Pokémon’s favorite ways to sleep.
Don’t enjoy the gameplay? Well, Pokémon Sleep is also a fully-functioning sleep tracker, providing insight into not only how many hours you snoozed per night—but how well you slept. Pokémon Sleep splits your sleep quality into three categories: Dozing (you probably have one eye half-open), Snoozing (solid!), and Slumbering (you went full Snorlax, buddy). At the end of every night, you get a sleep score. (More on that soon.) The game is clearly geared toward teaching a younger audience to create good sleep habits. The thing is—I can easily see Pokémon Sleep actually working for kids. The experience is cute, won’t demand much of your time, and it features Pokémon.
I went to bed last night thinking, Pikachu is going to be so mad at me.
There is, of course, some weird mobile-game wonkiness going on in Pokémon Sleep, which might leave you wanting to use a Fitbit like a normal adult. Pokémon Sleep‘s story revolves around a Snorlax that you’re raising and researching while you dream. When you wake up, your sleep report converts to “Drowsy Power,” which is a numerical score in the millions. I slept for six hours and earned a sleep score of 60/100. When multiplied by Snorlax’s 40,000 strength, it became a Drowsy Power of 2,400,000. (Makes sense!) You can also increase Snorlax’s strength with meals, snacks, and countless other little treats that serve as in-game microtransactions—which cost real money. I can’t imagine spending a dime on this game just to get a higher score. But who knows! Children with their parents’ credit card numbers wield unlimited power.
I’m not sure if Pokémon Sleep will fix my real problem: how late I stay up watching TV and/or doomscrolling. But last night, I went to bed thinking, Pikachu is going to be so mad at me! And he was! It wasn’t my intention to upset the little guy! So maybe, just maybe, Pokémon Sleep will fix me.
Josh Rosenberg is an Assistant Editor at Esquire, keeping a steady diet of one movie a day. His past work can be found at Spin, CBR, and on his personal blog at Roseandblog.com.