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Playing games before bed is bad for you, according to science

Too rousing for their own good?

A study by Flinders University, Australia found that playing video games for too long before bed can have adverse effects on your nightly sleep.

As reported by Medical Xpress, the study tested 17 teenage boys who played violent video games for 50 - 150 minutes before going to sleep over the course of two nights. Their sleep and heart-rates were monitored as well.

Flinders University child sleep psychologist Dr. Michael Gradisar, who supervised the study, noted that when the boys played for 150 minutes they showed a 27 minute loss in total sleep 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," explained Gradisar.

He also noted that REM sleep - also known as "dreaming sleep" was reduced by 12 minutes among the teens who played for two and a half 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."

Comparatively, the teens who only played for 50 minutes had little to no trouble falling or staying asleep. It took them about 22 minutes on average to pass out for the night, which is normal for that age range.

"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.

The good doctor noted that the study did not compare the effects of violent video games to non-violent ones (though I hope that study comes next), but he explained that based on his past research there was little difference between playing Call of Duty 4 before bed for 50 minutes versus watching the same amount of March of the Penguins.

"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."

Now I'm wondering if this is equally applicable towards an older audience as well. C'mon science, keep on testing!