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Playing a video game before bedtime has only a mild effect on adolescent sleep
Date:4/14/2010

tive sleepiness may be enough to cause teens to postpone going to bed until later at night. Gradisar also noted that the 50-minute experimental session may not reflect the reality of teens' gaming experience at home.

"Very few teens would limit their playing time to a single night of 50 minutes," said Gradisar. "With greater time invested there could be a greater emotional investment in the game. What happens to the teen's virtual character could begin to evoke feelings of anxiety and/or frustration that could have quite larger effects on their sleep."

The authors also pointed out that the participants were older teens with a mean age of 16 years and seven months, so it is possible that playing a video game before bedtime has a more severe effect on the sleep of younger adolescents. The teens in the study also were good sleepers, so playing a video game might have a greater impact on adolescents who normally take a long time to fall asleep. Frequent gaming also could desensitize adolescents to its stimulating effects, in which case teens who play only occasionally would experience greater sleep impairments.

Gradisar also suspects that sleeplessness could occur when the video games that teens play before bedtime require high levels of physical activity.

"When you add the effect of physical movement to the game-playing experience, such as playing "Guitar Hero" or Nintendo Wii, you're sure to increase alertness even further," he said. "Such movement would increase one's body temperature, and with increased body temperature comes increased alertness."

The authors concluded that the adage "everything in moderation" should guide parents as they set limits on bedtime video-game playing for adolescents.


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Contact: Kathleen McCann
kmccann@aasmnet.org
708-492-0930
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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