Finalists revealed: Helsinki Sleep Factory

Most parents know how hard it is to get their kids out of bed in the morning. They also know that there is not much use in telling them to go to sleep earlier. So how do you get young people to sleep better? The answer is by gamifying sleep, say Helsinki Challenge finalist team Helsinki Sleep Factory. They are building a motivating, empowering and personalized virtual sleep program for adolescents to learn and enhance their own sleep-awake-rhythm.

“Lots of young people suffer from sleep problems. Up to half of young people have sleep regulation problems, and about 15 per cent suffer from severe sleep problems”, team leader Anu-Katriina Pesonen says.

A game you play by sleeping

Sleep is actually a fragile interplay between one’s individual habits and bodily rhythm as well as their physical environment. The team aims to motivate adolescents to get in control of their own sleep and to be aware of their circadian rhythm, which means an individual’s physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle. To do this, they’re creating a mobile app for adolescents, which is its own form of art.

Helsinki Sleep Factory helps prevent bad sleep and lets you be a part of a sleep community, where sharing experiences and peer support keep you motivated. The program will include virtual tools like a sleep avatar, a sleep log and self-monitoring applications. Skill training applications and exercises will also be available, including relaxation exercises and mindfulness-based techniques.

”Workshops in schools helped us understand how loaded the students are with school and hobbies. The bigger this load is, the bigger their sleep problems. Our sleep intervention must not add to the burden, but should instead be fun, rewarding and easy to use”, Pesonen says.

TEAM: Team leader Docent Anu-Katriina Pesonen (Acting Professor at the University of Helsinki, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Timo Partonen (Professor, National Institute for Health and Welfare THL), Liisa Kuula-Paavola (PhD student, Institute of Behavioural Sciences), Anna Sofia Urrila (Clinical Research Fellow, Academy of Finland) and Joel Sammallahti (game designer and student, Institute of Behavioural Sciences).