Video Games Before Bed Affect Teens' Sleep Only Slightly

In small study of male teens, playing stimulating games tied to small increase in sleep-onset latency

WEDNESDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Playing stimulating video games prior to bedtime has only a slight effect on the sleep of older male teens, according to a study in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Edward Weaver, of Flinders University in Australia, and colleagues evaluated 13 male students between 14 and 18 years of age who were good sleepers, normally fell asleep within 15 minutes, and did not have excessive daytime sleepiness or any identifiable sleep disorders. The students participated in a counterbalanced design with experimental (active video gaming) and control (passive DVD watching) conditions.

The researchers found that video game playing prior to going to sleep only slightly increased sleep-onset latency and reduced subjective sleepiness, compared to the control condition. It took the teens a median of three minutes to fall asleep after passively watching a documentary, and a median of 7.5 minutes to fall asleep after playing a stimulating video game. Video game playing was associated with changes in cognitive alertness but not physiologic arousal. The researchers also observed no significant differences in rapid eye movement and slow wave sleep between the experimental and control conditions.

"Results suggest the direct effect of presleep video-game playing on adolescent sleep may be more modest than previously thought, suggesting that surveys linking stimulating presleep activities to poor sleep need substantiating with empirical evidence," the authors write.

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