Sleep problems among adolescents are a global issue, but the attempts to address them have been few and insufficient in scope. Helsinki Sleep Factory thinks the solution could lie in gamification, which would encourage young people to share their sleep experiences with their community. The Helsinki Sleep Factory researchers believe that adolescents can take responsibility for their own sleep quality, if they have information about their circadian rhythm and about what they need.
Team leader, Professor Anu-Katriina Pesonen believes that the gamified sleep-intervention developed by the team could solve this major social problem that has far-reaching implications we are only beginning to understand.
As she explains: “Half of all adolescents have some trouble with sleep, and an estimated 15% suffer from significant problems in regulating their circadian rhythm. These problems in turn influence school performance, learning, life management and the transition into adulthood.”
The problem does not affect adolescents alone, as its indirect impact is extensive. For example, the price of one school drop-out for society has been estimated to be close to one million euros.
Community to support decent sleep
The Helsinki Sleep Factory is a virtual sleep community that can help adolescents regulate their sleep patterns, offering them apps and techniques such as a sleep avatar, an interactive sleep log and a sleep-deficit calculator as well as peripherals to help measure body temperature and amount of light. They can help adolescents recognise their own circadian rhythm and the way the environment influences them. Thanks to the social component, participants can share their experiences with others and receive peer support.
Helsinki Sleep Factory has a complete product, but they lack funding. Pesonen emphasises that the team is competing in the Helsinki Challenge to win.
“Research funding doesn’t cover the development of a product, we would need innovation funding.”
The winner or winners of the 375,000-euro prize will be announced on 13 November at the Helsinki Challenge gala. The prize sum will be used to realise the team project. At the outset, 80 teams were accepted into the competition, of which 20 were chosen for the semifinal stage. The international jury selected five teams for the final.