Why We Created “Pokémon Sleep”

Why We Created “Pokémon Sleep” 2023.09.28

Sleep is an indispensable part of our everyday lives. But how many of us are satisfied with the quantity and quality of our sleep?


To find out, Pokémon conducted a survey asking people about their sleep. While 9 of every 10 people responded that they consider sleep important for both their physical and mental wellbeing, nearly half the respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of sleep they normally get. Their responses also suggested that while many people look forward to sleep, they experience little pleasure getting up after sleeping.


Through the years, at Pokémon we’ve released a variety of contents created to add enjoyment to the things people do in their daily lives. First, with “Pokémon GO” we made walking fun by adding the element of hunting for Pokémon in different places. Next, we developed “Pokémon Smile” to add enjoyment to the everyday routine of toothbrushing. We then launched our “Pokémon Sleep” project to create an app that would automatically track a person’s sleep and, with game-like fun, make waking up something to truly look forward to.


Though apps exist that collect sleep data, until now almost none have added enjoyment to the sleep process itself. So at Pokémon we put together a project team tasked with developing an app that would make sleep enjoyable. Progress didn’t come easily, however, and numerous trials and errors were experienced along the way. The development team worked up a succession of prototypes. For example, in one prototype Pokémon would be “bred” during the app user’s sleep, taking a hint from how Pokémon are bred by “Pokémon Breeder” in the Pokémon video game series. With another prototype, a video would show the ecology of Pokémon that had visited during one’s sleep. But ultimately the development team concluded that any apps of these or similar kinds might actually induce people to go back to sleep, so they wouldn’t be good for getting people up and out of bed. What the team eventually came up with was the idea of photographing different Pokémon sleep styles and having the app users collect them.

To create an app that would measure sleep and also be “Pokémon-esque,” we sought cooperation from experts in each of these areas.


For sleep measurement, we approached Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa, President and CEO of S’UIMIN Inc. and a leading specialist in sleep research, and got him on board to supervise app development. He provided expert advice regarding the most appropriate amount of sleep people need and the importance of maintaining a regular rest rhythm. Based on his advice, a sleep app was designed so that the better the quality of one’s sleep, the more Pokémon sleep styles one collects. Dr. Yanagisawa also shared his expertise on a number of related topics. For example, he explained how a person’s performance declines from “social jet lag.” Social jet lag is disturbance in one’s normal rhythm of going to sleep and getting up, resulting from changes in a person’s sleep patterns between workdays and days off. Dr. Yanagisawa also described how a lack of sufficient sleep can be overcome temporarily by sleeping for longer than normally, but it’s impossible to “store up” sleep in advance to prepare for future needs. Applying this and other advice from Dr. Yanagisawa, the development team proceeded to create an app with a function that provides “Sleep Tips” for better sleeping during gameplay. What we’ve introduced here is just a sampling, though. The realm of sleep is very complex, with lots and lots of mysteries still waiting to be unlocked.


To make “Pokémon Sleep” befittingly “Pokémon-esque,” we received cooperation in storyboard production and animation supervision from two creative geniuses who have been involved in developing the Pokémon anime TV series: Kunihiko Yuyama and Daiki Tomiyasu. They focused on Pokémon sleep styles and sleep ecology, considering details like facial expressions during sleep, body movements relating to breathing and yawning, and poses when Pokémon are caught off guard. They then integrated these details into the production of a finely worked storyboard. Being so familiar with Pokémon from the get-go, Mr. Yuyama and Mr. Tomiyasu succeeded in creating the cutest sleep styles imaginable! After that, the new sleep styles were given names that would add an extra element of amusement and loving attachment to them. The names were then localized into 8 languages – an extremely challenging task requiring both originality and creativity. But thanks to a lot of hard work and attention to detail, in the end amazing localized names were created that enable fans around the world to get maximum enjoyment from the unique world of “Pokémon Sleep.”

Another element of prime importance to make “Pokémon Sleep” truly “Pokémon-esque” is music, and to produce the music and sounds featured in the app we called on the brilliant services of Shota Kageyama, who had been involved in creating music for the Pokémon video game series. In developing the music for “Pokémon Sleep,” he meticulously responded to our request to create a special worldview for the app. He proceeded to create separate music themes for each island where Snorlax lives, and he even made different music arrangements for morning, daytime and evening.


In these ways, “Pokémon Sleep” is a product of the collective input of experts both in sleep and in Pokémon itself. Above all else, the development team said they gave highest priority to enabling app users to get a good sleep: “We didn’t design the app to catch different Pokémon depending on when the user sleeps, morning or night. Had we created it that way, the app might conduce some users to stay up until the wee hours or to reduce how long they sleep, which would hinder their ability to achieve regular sleeping habits. It’s only when app users get a good sleep that they collect more Pokémon of different kinds. So we hope ‘Pokémon Sleep’ will make sleep enjoyable and provide users a good rest rhythm.”


With “Pokémon Sleep,” the app user, on waking, discovers how Pokémon slept and what their sleep styles were. And just maybe, Pokémon appeared in their dreams, too!

Official Website『Pokémon Sleep』

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