iOS based passion project I worked on shortly after graduating from BrainStation.

Side Project
2020 (3 months)
Vanessa Ungerer (Portfolio)
UX, UI & User Research

Helping people improve their sleep quality


1 in 3 adults are not getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night according to a study led by the CDC in 2016.

When people get less than the recommended hours of sleep per night, as many do, it can eventually lead to a number of health problems. These can include forgetfulness, inattentiveness, being less able to fight off infections, mood swings, and depression.

One group of young adults that is especially prone to these problems are full-time post-secondary students, usually those attending college or university.


Focusing on post-secondary students as our primary audience, we set out to create a design intervention that would help them sleep better at night. The result was Luna, a fictitious iOS app that incentivized people to adopt better sleeping habits through gamification.

Research Insights

We started off by conducting one on one research interviews in order to better understand the behaviours, pain-points and goals of post-secondary students.

We concluded that a combination of stress, anxiety, and poor sleep hygiene are the principal reasons behind poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation. We used this data to further our UX research, and from there we began to develop Luna’s core features.

Here were our top research insights:

Phone use before bedtime

Looking at phone screens is the last thing a lot of people do before going to bed.

Desire for better quality sleep

People generally wish to improve the quality of their sleep and to reduce sleep deprivation in general.

Meditation as a sleep remedy

People who experience stress and anxiety use meditation to calm themselves and destress before going to bed.

Lack of follow through on healthy habits

People generally know what they should do before bed to ensure they sleep well, but they lack discipline to do so.

Tracking Sleep Behaviour

In order to assess a user’s sleep hygiene, Luna tracks a set of “sleep metrics” while they are sleeping. These include their overall sleep quality, the time they fell asleep and woke up, and their sleep duration.

By tracking these metrics overtime, Luna presents a holistic picture of a user’s sleep health.

Meditation as a sleeping tool

Our research showed that meditation was an effective sleep aid before bed time among our participants, especially those who had trouble falling asleep.

We therefore added a library of sleep audios from several genres including nature, instrumental, and meditation. The expected behaviour is that the user would select an audio to listen to every night to help them sleep.


Taking inspiration from the world’s most popular language app Duolingo, users are encouraged to use Luna on a daily basis in the interest of maintaining an unbroken streak. This is one of the core gamification features.

Duolingo for example rewards its users for maintaining a daily learning streak, and some players go to great lengths to ensure that their streak remains unbroken. Luna is designed to incentivize users in a similar manner.

Key Takeaways

At the time of this writing, Luna was a challenging project as it brought me into unchartered territory where I tried to build UI elements that I haven’t seen in other apps.

For example, the Digital Health Goal UI from the first iteration was too complicated for users to understand. We eventually ended up removing it and replaced it with the alarm function which was more in line with our users’ mental models. For me, this further cemented the importance of designing for user familiarity.