Drifting Off in Paradise: Why People Sleep in Virtual Reality (CHI ’23)

Sleep is important for humans, and past research has considered methods of improving sleep through technologies such as virtual reality (VR). However, there has been limited research on how such VR technology may affect the experiential and practical aspects of sleep, especially outside of a clinical lab setting. We consider this research gap through the lens of individuals that voluntarily engage in the practice of sleeping in VR. Semi-structured interviews with 14 participants that have slept in VR reveal insights regarding the motivations, actions, and experiential factors that uniquely define this practice. We find that participant motives can be largely categorized through either the experiential or social affordances of VR. We tie these motives into findings regarding the unique customs of sleeping in VR, involving set-up both within the physical and virtual space. Finally, we identify current and future challenges for sleeping in VR, and propose prospective design directions.

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Yin. M. and Xiao, R. (2023). Drifting Off in Paradise: Why People Sleep in Virtual Reality. In Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’23). ACM, New York, NY, USA. 13 pages. DOI: 10.1145/3544548.3580947

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