What would you get if you combined the animated children’s characters Moshi Monsters, with the meditation app Calm?
As it happens, the original creator of Moshi Monsters, (and founder of its parent company, Mind Candy) Michael Acton Smith, is also cofounder of Calm. So there’s no need for speculation. The answer is Moshi: Sleep & Mindfulness – a sleep aid app for children.
“At Calm we had seen tremendous success with our sleep stories,” explains Acton Smith, referring to the relaxing bedtime stories for adults that the app offers.
“We were hearing more and more anecdotal information about kids struggling to sleep at night – that often a fan needed to be on in a bedroom, for example. I was chatting to the team at Moshi and they were excited to see if a version [of sleep stories] for kids could be created.”
The first step for Mind Candy was inventing a new set of Moshi characters (or Moshlings), called The Sleepies. These are Sleepypaws the Snoozy Koala, Prof. Feathersnooze the Owl of Nod, Nodkins the Bedtime Bunny, Yawnsy the Sleepwalking Otter and Little Bo Nap the Sleepy Sheepy.
Now, within the Moshi app, parents can play bedtime stories or relaxation sessions (designed for journeys or times of anxiety) that feature these characters, or stories with some of the well known Moshi personalities, such as Mr Snoodle’s Twilight Train. The content is aimed at four- to nine-year-olds.
Each of the stories is 15 to 20 minutes long and they begin with an engaging tale set to music, but as they progress the storytelling slows down and they often end with several minutes of music alone. Mr Snoodle’s Twilight Train features a train sound that matches the rhythm of a resting child’s heartbeat.
“There’s some light science behind it, using the knowledge we have from Calm,” explains Ian Chambers, CEO of Mind Candy. “Most stories have a start, middle and end, but that’s not great for sending kids to sleep as they’re waiting for the ending. These stories take you through the different stages of sleep and the stimulate the right brainwaves with different kinds of content.”
Chambers tested the content with his family. “My daughter was seven and my son was two when we had the prototype,” he says. “I put it on and my daughter loved the story and it made her fall asleep. I thought, ‘This is a miracle’... five months later both my children go to bed every night with these stories.”
Key to all of this is that children don’t engage with the screen at bedtime. The stories are audio only.
“There are lots of studies around blue light being disruptive to sleep, which is why these are audio stories, but I don’t believe that having no tech anywhere near the bedroom is necessarily the right approach,” says Chambers.
“We are not trying to break up family time. We read to our children every night. But there’s a fidgety period after you turn the lights out and you end up holding their hand, they get up, ask to go to the loo seven times… If we can help parents reduce that by 10 minutes a day, you could learn something new in that time, or just sit down with your favourite drink. Ultimately, our goal is to help parents have more time.”