I've covered Pokémon quite a lot here on Night Water, but rarely touched its relationship to the horological concept known as "late night vibes." But a new app coming this summer has the potential to change Pokémon's relationship to nighttime forever.
It's called Pokémon Sleep. It was actually announced way back in 2019 with a cryptic trailer showing a Pikachu crawling into bed with a sleeping human. In the same way that Pokémon Go, the mobile AR game that encourages you to walk outside, tracks how far we walk, Pokémon Sleep would track hours slept. The purpose of this was unclear, but it was obvious even back in 2019 that late night vibes might never be the same.
Pokémon Sleep was supposed to drop in 2020, but instead, it was simply never mentioned again until just a few weeks ago, when the Pokémon Company finally showed off a bit of gameplay—though "gameplay" might be a generous descriptor. It's essentially a Pokémon-themed sleep tracker. Put your phone next to your pillow while you sleep and, like many other similar apps, it'll use the motion of the mattress to judge whether or not you slept well. Instead of scientific categorizations, Pokémon Sleep will bucket your sleep time into "dozing," "snoozing," and "slumbering."
When you're not sleeping, you'll be greeted with a massive Snorlax—the famously sleepy, 900 pound behemoth—along with a collection of Pokémon who sleep in a similar way to you. By continuing to track your sleep every night, you'll collect more Pokémon, as well as unique "sleep styles," such as "goofy sleep."
It seems like the goal of most sleep tracking apps is to show you how much you suck at sleeping. Deep sleep or bust. You wake up too much. Subscribe to our service to find out why your bad sleep is ruining your life. And so on. On the surface, it seems like Pokémon Sleep aims to upend that—just like in real life, you'll need all three types of sleep, both in order to feel well-rested and to collect all of the available Pokémon and their sleep styles.
If you do have trouble falling asleep though, no worries—Pokémon Sleep will play you Pokémon lullabies to help you go from dozing to slumbering, which I'm sure won't be at all surreal to listen to for anyone above the age of 12.
Regardless of whether or not you fall asleep to Pikachu whispering sweet nothings into your ear, Pokémon Sleep represents a brand new era for Pokémon's late night vibes. Nothing this radical has affected Pokémon's relationship to time since the introduction of a real-time clock back in the Game Boy days, in Generation II. Pokémon Gold and Silver introduced a bunch of new Pokémon that only appeared at night or evolved at a specific time of day. If you couldn't stay up and play past 6 p.m., you were out of luck—no Hoothoot for you.
Outside of the games, you could create your own cozy late night vibes with Pokémon pajamas, stuffed animals, and anime reruns. Unofficial cocktails (or beer and shot pairings) could bring an edge to your late night Pokémon vibes—if the PokéBar doesn't get shut down by Nintendo's lawyers before you get there.
But nothing integrates quite into your life like a little game on your phone. There are still a ton of unanswered questions about Pokémon Sleep—How many Pokémon can we collect? What are they doing with all my sleep data? Why did it take 3 years longer than they anticipated?—but the biggest question is if Pokémon Sleep will have a lasting impact on our late night vibes. Will it change sleeping the same way Pokémon Go changed walking? Or will we all forget about sleeping "droopy-ear style" by fall?
Find out when Night Water takes Pokémon Sleep for a spin later this year. Until then, fall asleep to some Pokémon-inspired lofi beats: