Playing too many video games before bed may be bad for you

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Even the laptop is in sleep mode...

If there’s one thing that I don’t have a problem with, it’s falling asleep. I can grab some shuteye pretty much anywhere, on anything. Which would explain why I woke up in a bathtub full of ice, a scar in my side and was a few organs short, the last time that I crashed at Geoff’s place. According to science, all those late night sessions that he spent playing video games have been bad for him, as researchers now claim thattoo many games before beddy bye-times is a bad thing.

The Medical Xpress has reported that a study conducted on teenage boys who played violent video games for between 1-3 hours before sleep, over two nights, showed a decrease of 27 minutes in nap time, and a 39 minute delay in sleep onset.

“While they went to bed at their regular bedtime, the adolescents’ still experienced significant sleep disruptions caused by frequent awakenings throughout the night,” said Flinders University child sleep psychologist Dr. Michael Gradisar, who supervised the study.

Gradisar also noted that the dreaming section of sleep, the Losing my religion component REM, also experienced a 12 minute reduction. “This may not seem like a significant reduction but REM plays an important part in helping us remember content we learnt that day so for adolescents in their final years of school who are revising for exams, winding down at night with a video game might not be the best idea”, Gradisar said.

However, according to the research, the teens who played for only under an hour, experienced no issues whatsoever, and fell asleep within standard times.”But their sleep onset delay almost doubled to 39 minutes when they played for two and a half hours so clearly there’s a limit to how much you should play before bed,” said Gradisar.

This is all based on games with a gory and bloody tone to them though, and did not take into account more child-friendly titles. “The aim of this investigation wasn’t to assess the content of video games but to look at the effect of the worst possible thing to do before bed because at the end of the day we want to better understand what affects adolescents’ sleep,” Gradisar explained.

“At the moment, less than one hour seems okay.”

Well, that explains Geoff at least. For the rest of us though, I’m certain that plenty of us have already fallen asleep in a couch playing Mortal Kombat, Mario Kart or anything in-between. I’ll pinch the salt heavily on this research, methinks.

Last Updated: October 23, 2012

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