Getting the kids off to sleep at night can be a major chore. It’s important to have a bedtime routine, but sometimes the bath, story, tuck in, silly song, drink of water, and final cuddle just don’t quite do the trick. It can take years for children to learn to fall asleep, and many parents lie or sit with young kids until they drift off. That’s fine when they’re very young, but there comes a time when you want to reclaim some of your evenings. Spending half an hour every night sitting in a dark room waiting for your child to fall asleep, and then trying to creep out silently gets old, especially when they pop up at the living room door ten minutes later.
Technology is often blamed for our sleep problems, whether it’s internet addiction, or blue light from screens, or just a general upswing in stress levels because we’re constantly connected. But what if technology could also help? I’m not talking about more sleep gadgets, but rather an app called Moshi Twilight that has been specially designed to help guide your wee ones off to the land of nod.
“About 45 million bedtimes have been made easier by Moshi Twilight so far,” Mind Candy CEO, Ian Chambers, told Digital Trends. “We’re helping parents save hours and hours of time a week in their own lives.”
The Moshi Twilight app features sleep stories that are mostly between 20 and 30 minutes long. The idea is that you go through your normal bedtime routine with your child, but when it’s time to snuggle down, instead of sitting there waiting for them to drop off, you put on a sleep story for them to listen to. These are no ordinary bedtime stories; sleep stories have been carefully designed, through consultation with sleep experts, and they’re beautifully crafted.
“When we talked to sleep experts they told us about the transition from being awake to being asleep, so we structured sleep stories to focus on that transition,” explained Chambers.
There are around 60 sleep stories in the app, all original content by the talented Steve Cleverley, and you won’t find them elsewhere. Each has a gentle story, featuring characters like SleepyPaws the Snoozy Koala or Nodkins the Bedtime Bunny in different backdrops from ancient Egypt to the wild west. Clever use of soundscapes, dreamy melodies, and measured, gentle narration combine to make your child feel sleepy.
“They start off engaging to activate the child’s mind, which is what we were told by the sleep experts — to get their imagination flowing — and the stories become more soporific as they go on,” explained Chambers. “They become effectively white noise, just gentle music by the end.”
The production values are impressive. Just load the app up and there’s a kind of dreamy soundscape that plays in the background as your child picks a story. The gentle narration is skillful, walking a tightrope between engaging your mind and allowing it to drift off. There are no crescendos or unnatural cadences. The story I listened to played out like verses divided by a repeating musical chorus, and it gradually unraveled towards the end. There are also a few stories with guest narrators, such as Goldie Hawn, Patrick Stewart, and Brian Blessed.
If you’ve ever used an app like Calm, then the idea of Moshi Twilight will sound familiar. There’s a reason for that: Mind Candy was founded by Michael Acton Smith, the creator of Calm, and he’s still the chairman there. Moshi Twilight fuses some of what Smith has learned through Calm with the popular Moshi Monsters brand to create an app dedicated to improving sleep for youngsters.
I’ve used the Moshi Twilight app for a week now with my seven-year-old daughter and she loves it. It seems to have sent her off to sleep every night so far, except for one where she came down and asked for a second story. Usually, she has some trouble getting to sleep, and I or my wife often sit with her for half an hour or more. The advantage of an app like this isn’t just about freeing up time for parents, though, it’s also important that kids get enough sleep.
“Sleep is the master switch of our lives and it controls everything from development to health,” suggests Chambers.
Modern life doesn’t seem to be conducive to good sleep. The same factors that are reducing the average number of hours an adult sleeps are also impacting many children. Lack of sleep makes us less capable. Everything seems tougher when we’re tired. There have also been multiple studies linking sleep deprivation in kids with behavioral problems, lower achievement, and even obesity.
If you have concerns about using an app when you’re trying to cut down on screen time, consider that the screen doesn’t need to be on for the story to play. You could leave the family iPad on a shelf, or even better, use a speaker of some kind. I’ve been letting my daughter choose a story and then taking the screen away and streaming to a Bluetooth speaker in her room.
It’s also important to note that this isn’t intended to replace reading with your child. It’s a sleep aid that gets turned on at the end of your usual bedtime routine when it’s time to turn the lights out and settle down for sleep.
Moshi Twilight seems to work. Mind Candy says 97% of parents that they surveyed agreed that it got their kids to sleep more quickly than usual and 67% of Moshi Twilight users use the app every day. While the sleep stories are designed for children between the ages of four and eight years, they can work for any age. It’s certainly working for my daughter, and when I played a story the other night to listen for myself it sent my wife to sleep inside ten minutes.
“We’re running medical trials with New York University to try and get some scientific knowledge behind what’s actually going on and why they work so well,” Chambers explains.
Mind Candy intends to keep adding new sleep stories, roughly one per week. It’s also looking into mindfulness and meditation, in fact, there’s already a section in the app called Meditate, which offers shorter, five to fifteen-minute audio clips designed to calm children down and help them relax when they need it during the day.
“We know child anxiety is becoming more of an issue, it could be schoolwork, social challenges, bullying, it could be all sorts of things,” says Chambers. “We want to give kids an understanding of anxiety and how to relax.”
They’ve also had positive feedback about the impact of the app for kids with ADHD and autism. It’s being used in schools, too, and Chambers sees major potential in hospitals and for travel.
“Anywhere we can help parents or help children to sleep better and be more relaxed is going to be our goal.”
The Moshi Twilight app is free to download and it’s available for Android and iOS. There’s a free 7-day trial, but you’ll need a subscription after that. If you want to unlock all the content, which includes music and sounds, as well as the sleep stories and meditations, a premium annual subscription is $35 for the year (25 British pounds).