Gamers have always had a reputation for being anti-social with abnormal sleeping patterns, but are our assumptions correct?
A number of, sleeping, research studies have been directed at the younger generation. And the modern day teenager loves nothing more than a good “shoot ‘em up” computer game. So has the new generation of gamers become the cause of teenager’s non-existent early nights and lack of motivation to get up in the morning? Studies suggest due to hormone imbalance melatonin is released at a later time during teenage years, meaning for some it just isn’t possible to have an early night, also their natural body clock shifts to a later waking time – so being a zombie waking up for class is for most teenager’s an unavoidable reality. So before we even reflect on the effects of gaming, it is clear that younger gamers (who make up the majority of all gamers) are often already lacking the necessary quantity of sleep.
For more information on the necessary quantity of sleep, and other useful facts, check out: www.sleepfoundation.org
As a self-confessed gamer, we have all been in that situation where we say to ourselves, “Just one more go” and after what seems only a couple of minutes it is 3am and we’re still procrastinating, absorbed by our favourite game. Even after leaving my teenage years behind, old habits die hard, a new game is released from a series I have followed for years and all other past times take a back burner (even important things occasionally); The most recent example of which being the rise of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
After further research I have found my example to be similar to that of thousands of other people worldwide, but are all gamers sleep deprived?
The answer is an obvious no, but the problem is wide spread, and the educational aspect of people in this situation is often absent. People, who play computer games until the early hours of the morning, are often not knowledgeable about the negative effects on their bodies, which is an obvious problem. With this behaviour typically developing in teenagers, it would make sense for such awareness to be instilled during their education, which from personal experience is not the case. Some of the issues are admittedly common sense, but the underlying long term effects are simply unknown to the masses.
So what effect is this having on our bodies?
Lack of sleep can have a number of effects on our bodies, some a lot more noticeable than others. We all know someone who claims they don’t need to sleep as much as the ordinary human, this is rarely the case. Sleep deprivation can be dangerous, as being deprived of sleep can lead to “microsleep”; an example of which being the small moments where you appear to daydream during a meeting or presentation. Missing a couple minutes of some lecture is hardly dangerous, but a microsleep while driving a car is a whole different story.
We all know that reaction times and overall awareness drops when you are sleep deprived, so not only are you having a negative effect on your daily life, you’re going to be a “noob” at your favourite game.
Research shows that gamers often combat the negative effects of sleep deprivation with Caffeine. This may be ok with the occasional coffee, or the sporadic energy drink, but the over consumption of caffeine can have a dangerous effect on the overall functionality of your body. Persistent consumption of Caffeine products, especially pills like Pro-Plus, can lead to a toxic level of Caffeine in your system. This can commonly lead to heart-burn and sweating, but in some cases can significantly raise your heart-beat and even generate fluid in the lungs.
To deviate from the negatives, the occasional all-nighter or gaming marathon is not going to hurt your body. But if this is a regular problem, then your attitude towards gaming and sleep need to be adjusted.
Further studies and interviews with experts can be found at: www.gameinformer.com
Is it all bad news for gamers, or is there a solution?
It’s not all bad news; it’s just a case of gaming at a convenient time. To help with sleeping it is advised to keep your PC/Consoles out of the bedroom, including televisions. There should be no distractions when it comes to sleep. In the modern day it is difficult when people use their mobile phones as an alarm clock, and gaming apps are readily available on any modern mobile phone. So another suggestion, if you are finding yourself looking/playing on your phone every night, is to buy an alarm clock and leave your phone charging downstairs at night times.
So maybe gaming as a hobby is only suitable for the younger generation, or perhaps time management (that boring topic over discussed on every under-graduate university course) is more important than we give it credit for in our daily lives. Regardless of what you take from this brief insight into the world of the effects of gaming on sleeping patterns, gaming was the platform which got me interested in computers. I spent 5 years as a full time Chef after leaving high-school (a low paid, anti-social job), but after acquiring this new interest I now find myself entering the latter stages of my university degree. That can only be positive, even if I never sleep.