Helsinki Sleep Factory

What happens when you combine sleep researchers, technology and social media? An interactive sleep program and cool apps, that’s what.

Approximately fifteen per cent of adolescents suffer from noticeable sleep problems. Consequently their school success, energy levels and emotional wellbeing suffer from sleep deprivation. Their parents know it’s no use telling their kids to just go to sleep earlier. Sleep is actually a fragile interplay between one’s individual habits and bodily rhythm as well as their physical environment.

“The number of adolescents affected by sleep problems is very high,” says Helsinki Challenge semifinalist team leader, Docent Anu-Katriina Pesonen.

Sleep Factory is a motivating, empowering and personalized virtual sleep program for adolescents to learn and enhance their sleep-awake-rhythm. The aim is to motivate adolescents to be in control of their own sleep and be aware of their circadian rhythm, meaning the physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding to light and darkness.

Motivating kids to care about sleep

Sleep Factory will concentrate on the social, motivational and cognitive issues contributing to sleep problems. The program will include virtual tools like a virtual sleep mentor, a sleep log and self-monitoring applications, such as a emotion trackers, a sleep debt calculator, a necklace to measure your body temperature, a light data logger and a weather application. Skill training applications and exercises will be available, including relaxation and mindfulness-based techniques and cognitive restructuring to reduce anxiousness.

The idea is to prevent bad sleep and be a part of a sleep community, where sharing your experiences and peer support keep you motivated. And not forgetting the fun side: your sleep rhythm can be translated into music in the morning, you can snap a morning selfie or even check your sleep-debt drunkenness permillage. The approach angle is social and fresh – what would a teenager do?

Want to help this team? Become a Helsinki Challenge partner here.

TEAM: Team leader Docent Anu-Katriina Pesonen (University lecturer 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) and Anna Sofia Urrila (Clinical Research Fellow, Academy of Finland).