Gaming before bed negatively impacts teens' sleep, research finds

October 18, 2012, Flinders University
Video games and sleepless nights
Credit: Shutterstock

(Medical Xpress)—Teenagers should steer clear of prolonged video gaming if they want a good night's sleep, new research from Flinders University shows.

The study – conducted at the University's Sleep Laboratory by masters student Daniel King – found that prolonged immediately before bed caused significant sleep disruptions in a group of , even when they fell asleep at their usual .

The 17 participants played a newly released, fast-paced, for either 50 or 150 minutes on two different nights in the Sleep Lab, with sleep and heart-rate monitors as well as subjective reports from the teenagers used to assess the arousing effects of prolonged gaming.

Flinders University child sleep psychologist Dr Michael Gradisar, who supervised the study, said there was a 27-minute loss in total 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 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," he said.

"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."

Dr Gradisar said the teens who played for 50 minutes had almost no trouble falling or staying asleep, yet significant disruptions were reported after 150 minutes of game time.

"Based on the self-reports, those who played for 50 minutes said it took them 22 minutes to fall asleep, which is within the normal amount of time teens take of 30 minutes or less.

"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."

Dr Gradisar said the study did not compare the effects of violent versus non-violent video games, although his past research showed little difference in teens who watched 50 minutes of the March of the Penguins documentary or played 50 minutes of Call of Duty 4, a violent videogame, before bed.

"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 ' sleep. At the moment, less than one hour seems okay."

Results of the study have just been accepted in the international Journal of Research.

Explore further: Moderate iPad use won't keep teens up at night

Related Stories

Moderate iPad use won't keep teens up at night

October 4, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Teenagers who use an iPad for an hour before bed are still likely to get a good night's sleep, new research from Flinders University shows.

Less sleep may be answer to beating bedtime blues

May 8, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Restricting the amount of time a child spends in bed could lower levels of sleep-related stress and anxiety, a Flinders University researcher believes.

Early to bed and early to rise -- study suggests it's keeping kids leaner

September 30, 2011
Ben Franklin was right, at least on the healthy part. "Early to bed and early to rise" appears to have helped a cross-section of early-bird Australian youths keep slimmer and more physically active than their night-owl peers, ...

Recommended for you

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.