Research: Prolonged Gaming Before Bed is Not Good for Teenage Boys

October 19, 2012 -

A new study by the Sleep Laboratory at Flinders University (a public university in Adelaide, South Australia) finds that teens who play video games for long periods of time have trouble getting a good night's sleep. The study conducted by masters student Daniel King (supervised by child sleep psychologist Dr. Michael Gradisar) found that long periods of game playing before bed time caused significant sleep disruptions in a group of teenage boys - even when they fell asleep at their usual bedtime.

The study let its 17 participants play a "fast-paced, violent video game" for 50 - 150 minutes on two different nights in the Sleep Lab. Participants were monitored for sleep and heart-rate readings, as well as subjective reports from the teenagers. All of this data was used to assess the effects of prolonged gaming.

Dr. Gradisar said the tests found that there was a 27-minute loss in total sleep time after 150 minutes of gaming based on the polysomnography tests and a 39-minute delay in sleep onset according to the participants' sleep diaries.

"While they went to bed at their regular bedtime, the adolescents' still experienced significant sleep disruptions caused by frequent awakenings throughout the night," Dr. Gradisar said. "Sleep is made up of many different stages and the REM sleep, also known as the dreaming sleep, was reduced by 12 minutes among the teens who played for over two hours."

"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," he added.

Dr. Gradisar went on to say that teens who played for 50 minutes had no trouble falling or staying asleep, but "significant disruptions" were found after 150 minutes of game time.

He also noted that the study did not compare the effects of violent versus non-violent video games.

"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. At the moment, less than one hour seems okay," he said.

The results of this study were recently accepted in the international Journal of Sleep Research.

Source: Medical Express

"alarm clock resting on a pillow" © 2012 Graça Victoria / Shutterstock. All rights reserved, used with permission.


Comments

Re: Research: Prolonged Gaming Before Bed is Not Good for ...

*start rant*

This I feel falls under the No Duh Sherlock clause.  While true, multiple studies have shown that any screen time/electronics before bed (not just video games) can mess with your circadian rhythms causing sleep disturbance.  The problem with focusing only on video games (at least in my mind) is that politicians will cite this study alone for furtherance of their political agenda.  It feels like almost any time a study comes out in the negative for video games, a politician uses the study as fuel for legislation. 

*end rant*

Ok, I feel better now.  Thanks for listening.

High Tech Redneck

Re: Research: Prolonged Gaming Before Bed is Not Good for ...

No rocket science here.  If you go to bed all fired up, you sleep poorly.  I've had it happen with videos games, a movie, a sports game, music concert... 

Re: Research: Prolonged Gaming Before Bed is Not Good for ...

"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."

Kind of difficult to determine that when you have nothing to compare it with.  (Note: I'm assuming that if he didn't look at non-violent games, he didn't look at anything else either.  Stuff like watching TV or reading.)

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Research: Prolonged Gaming Before Bed is Not Good for ...

It looks like this study is building on previous data, the article mentions earlier research comparing watching a movie vs. playing Call of Duty.

 
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