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

said their study did not receive any funding from the video game industry.

The research involved 13 boys between the ages of 14 and 18 who normally fell asleep in less than 15 minutes.

The teens sat in bed beneath the covers with electrodes attached and lights dimmed, and were asked to either watch the documentary or play the video game for just 50 minutes before going to sleep. The 50-minute time period was chosen because it is the maximum amount of continuous play recommended by game marketer Sony Corp., according to the study. A week later, the same teens returned to perform whichever task they didn't get the first time around.

Eleven teens took longer to fall asleep after playing the video game than after watching the documentary, while two fell asleep faster. Four teens actually fell asleep during the documentary, a slow-moving and tranquil movie that was chosen to provide contrast to the frenetic video game.

Seven of the teens told researchers they felt less sleepy after playing the video game than after watching the documentary, while four indicated the same level of sleepiness and two felt less sleepy after watching the movie. When the teens slept, researchers found all slept normally with appropriate amounts of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and slow-wave sleep.

"These results are a bit surprising, in that a stimulating activity right before bedtime did not alter teens' established sleep patterns. This is good news for parents," said Cheryl K. Olson, co-director of the Center for Mental Health and Media at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

However, Olson noted that the study did not reflect the reality of teenage life, in which a multitude of media are all competing for kids' attention.

"This study was done under tightly controlled conditions that rule out other ways media can disrupt sleep," she said. "Other studies have shown problems with children using media instead of sleepin
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