Sleeping in VR

What would be like to wake up in a virtual space?

I stumbled across this Reddit discussion about sleeping in VR some time ago, and it got me thinking about our daily habits, and how they gradually become a part of our digital routines too.

I am not likely to be jumping into bed with my Quest anytime soon. But Reddit user Aambientt reports at least 120 hours worth of sleep in VRChat. And another Redditor called MyNameisSenpai recalls falling asleep in VRChat at one point, and says “it was great 😂 I was woken up by a cute, soft voiced, anime girl calling out ‘Senpai!’. Twas' truly a magical event”.

Universal rule: People will do unbelievably unexpected things with products.

VR headsets aren’t designed to be permanently attached to our body, certainly not right now, and several people in this thread rightly express health concerns, mainly relating to your eyes taking in light throughout your sleep cycle.

On the other hand, I find the experiment quite interesting and wonder if people have explored the idea of organized sleep events with larger groups - like a pijama party but in virtual reality. There’s somehow a need for community that social media, and now virtual reality, is able to answer for some. Distance is still a barrier to community for many who live in rural areas, loneliness is a huge unrecognized mental health challenge for so many.

Sleeping in VR is a crazy idea, but hearing someone who is thousands of miles away snoring seems like a unique experience.

To me it links us back to our past human habits - sleeping in a room with multiple other people has been the norm throughout human history. Having a room of your own to do so throughout your life has always been reserved for the very few who could afford it.

Several people have experimented with spending long amounts of time in VR. Mark Farid, shown above, spent a month in VR but took breaks, and did not sleep with his headset on (strange then that his promotional material includes this photo.

Thorsten Wiedemann spent 48-hours non-stop in a virtual session, and had a ‘cozy cove’ designed for him by Sara Lisa Vogl's, to catch up on sleep and take breaks. He describes waking up in VR as feeling ‘unusual’ and also says he ‘had no physical problems, no burning eyes, killing headaches or nausea.

Many of the mediation experiences that have been built specifically for VR could easily be co-opted for sleeping, and more broadly, for moments of calm in our otherwise hectic lives. With so many VR experiences being focused on action, and very often violence, this is a beautiful product idea waiting to happen.

The act of meditation is quite specific, but I have myself found many moments in game worlds as well as Sansar spaces to be good for my soul somehow - you breathe more deeply when you see the sunlight streaming through some tree leaves, or a stunning landscape view on top of a hill, whether it is the real thing or not. Beauty is universal, it seems. And yes, it calms me.

The idea that you can sleep suspended in zero-gravity, or in a far-away temple, or a never-before seen procedurally generated environment - actually resonates.

Is this a small step to being permanently plugged into the Matrix? I think we are a long way off from that. But dozing off on a chair in a beautiful space feels like something to try. The only thing you need to worry about,’ says user forceej, “is if your PC can handle it, screen burn-in and your electric bill.”

As always, thanks for reading.