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Video Games Before Bed May Not Shortchange Slumber
Date:4/15/2010

Study found it took teens only few more minutes to fall asleep

THURSDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who worry that their teenaged son won't sleep well if he indulges in a violent video game right before bedtime may be fretting needlessly.

A new study found that teens who played the popular video game "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" took only slightly longer to fall asleep than teens who watched a documentary.

A report on the finding appears in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Australian researchers found that it took teens a median of 7.5 minutes to fall asleep after playing the video game, only slightly longer than the three minutes it took them to nod off after watching the Academy Award-winning March of the Penguins on DVD.

The video gamers were only slightly less sleepy than the documentary watchers following each activity, although they displayed a slight increase in cognitive alertness. The researchers found no significant differences in physiologic arousal between the two groups, and both ended up sleeping normally.

But the teens played the game under very strict conditions, ones that might be very different from what happens at home, explained lead researcher Michael Gradisar, senior lecturer in clinical child psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide.

"The teens only played the video game for 50 minutes, and they only played it on a single night," Gradisar said. "Despite finding that they were mentally stimulated playing the video game, I believe the 'dose' of 50 minutes was too low to have any major ramifications on their sleep."

The short amount of time also kept the boys from becoming too wrapped up in the action. "Being limited to 50 minutes didn't allow the teens to become emotionally invested in the video game," Gradisar said. "Thus, if their character died, it didn't matter."

The researchers
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