Wide Asleep – Research Essay

So this is a research essay for a game-for-change game, I had to design during my Game Design Course. I decided upon a sleeping app that added gamelike elements to promote better sleeping habits and alert users of potential health risks associated with poor sleep. This was done with a good friend who designed all the images. I don’t know if I still have all the files but it looked really good in my opinion.

Having a good sleep pattern is an alarming issue for most people with 90% of Australians suffering from some kind of sleep disorder during their lives.[1] Lack of sleep is linked with motor vehicle accidents, medical & occupational errors, disasters and a wide variety of health risks.[1] [2]

Wide Asleep is designed to alert users of their poor sleeping habits/ cycles visually via the use of a digital pet. As well as monitor the user’s sleep and show them any potential sleeping disorders that might be keeping them from getting a good nights rest. It will offer the user different methods to improve their sleep hygiene.[3]

Every aspect of a person’s life is shaped by their sleeping habits. Lack of sleep leads to: “Decreased immune function and an increased risk of infection.”[4] This is due to the stress put on the body since the body recovers and rids itself of toxins during sleep. “Changes in hormone levels causing higher risk of obesity and diabetes.”[4] People who are sleep deprived make poor choices in their nutritional intake. They are more likely to go for fatty foods because their body is seeking a quick source of energy. “Impaired thinking and attention.”[4] “Someone with 18 hours of sleep deprivation has the same driving performance as someone with a 0.05 alcohol reading.”[1] This contributes to a higher risk of accidents. “Decreased ability to learn and form memories.” During sleep the mind sorts through the days memories and stores them into the person’s long term memory. “… and a higher risk of heart problems”[4]

Wide Asleep highlights the unhealthy ways of the user’s sleep pattern and shows the effects through the use of the digital pet as well as text. It tells the user proper sleep methods such as: “Go to bed only when sleepy.”[3] Going to bed when the user is sleepy will reduce the amount of time spent lying awake. “If you can’t fall asleep”[3], the user should get up and do something relaxing to give themselves some time to settle down. Then they should attempt to go back to trying to sleep. “Don’t take your worries and responsibilities to bed.”[3] Users should stop stressing and just go to sleep.

There are more than 70 different kinds of sleep disorders. Up to 80% of sleep disorders are undiagnosed.[1] Many of the disorders involve involuntary movements while the subject is sleeping, these range from grinding their teeth to sleepwalking and night terrors.

Wide Asleep tracks the user’s sleep and will alert them to irregularities when they are awake. Wide Asleep will recommend the user to see their general practitioner if the circumstances are extreme and require one.

Sleeping is an important part of life for all ages, which makes it all the more unfortunate that many people don’t realise the consequences to their poor sleep hygiene. Wide Asleep is mainly focused towards Young Adults willing to monitor their sleep health and make positive changes to how much sleep they’re getting. But all ages can make use of this app. It addresses the issues in a visually appealing and informative way.

References
1
Too Wired For Sleep, 17/04/14,
http://www.theage.com.au/multimedia/toowiredforsleep/main.html
2 Insufficient Sleep is a Public Epidemic, 17/04/14,
http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/index.html
3 “Sleep hygiene is a term used to describe the behaviors we have that relate to our sleep habits.”, Sleep and You, 17/04/14,
http://www.sleepandyou.com/about-sleep-hygiene.htm
4 Sleep and You, 17/04/14,
http://www.sleepandyou.com/about-sleep-deprivation.htm

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