Video games and their impact on sleep

How do you wind down in the evening? Do you watch a film, watch some soaps, listen to music or chat with friends? Do you play video games?

Multi-platform video games are becoming more and more popular with children and adults alike, begging the question: how is all of this extra time focused on our screens affecting our sleep?

The most famous study regarding the effect of video games on sleep was conducted at Flinders University Sleep Laboratory on 13 male students with an average age of 16.6 years. They were asked to sit up in bed and play Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for 50 minutes – the amount of playtime recommended by Sony – with electrodes measuring and testing stimulation before, during and after gameplay. One week after the first experiment, they were invited back to the lab to watch March of the Penguins to see how they reacted to the comparatively passive activity of watching a DVD. The conclusion of the experiment was that it took around seven and a half minutes more for the subjects to fall asleep when playing video games than the three minutes it took after watching the DVD.

The study suggests that video games do extend the time it takes for adolescents to fall asleep, but it is a relatively negligible amount, and while they might have experienced more difficulty in getting to sleep, once they were asleep, the quality of their slumber varied very little.

If you are an avid gamer and you are worried about the effect your late-night gaming may be having on you, don’t stop playing video games altogether, as they’ve been confirmed to improve reaction times and problem solving skills – the best plan of action may be to switch off just a little earlier than you usually do before letting your head hit the pillow.

As the research surrounding video games and their impact on sleep in adults is so sparse, the Mattressman team will be conducting an experiment of our own to see what effect late-night gaming has. We will submit the results and let you know of our findings once we’ve completed the tests!

Sleep Well!

Rosie Laughton-Paxton

Rosie Laughton-Paxton

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