You Can Sleep When You're Dead...Then Re-spawn 10 Seconds Later

My day begins promptly at 7:40 a.m.  In twenty minutes, I am able to get ready, drive to work, and get to my desk as the 8 a.m. chimes begin to ring from the cathedral across the street.  After I punch out at 4:30, I go home, run errands, and try to eat.  My day is not truly finished until about 10 at night.  Most people would only have a few hours left in their day, but whenever I begin to pick up my sticks and get my Call of Duty fix taken care of, I notice the online map of America that shows who is playing looks more green than Slimer from Ghostbusters, green showing who is online, and it stays green until the next morning.  Trust me, I monitor that map every time I need to log back into XBOX Live due to the internet shilling out.  What is keeping so many people up late playing these games?  Is it because they are addicted, or is it because they are tuned to stay awake and need to fill their time?  So today, we are going to dive into the studies to determine if video games have any impact on sleep.



This is the East Coast at three in the morning.

We will begin with those who see video games like cocaine.  Studies show that video games can act like a "jolt of caffeine".  Time Magazine reports:
 In [a] study, 28% of preschoolers who watched TV or played video games for at least 30 minutes after 7 p.m. had sleep problems most nights of the week, versus 19% of children whose TV and video-game use took place only before 7 p.m.
This study comes out of the journal Pediatrics.  They blame part of it to the brightness of the screen changing melatonin levels.  The monitor's are so bright that it prevents melatonin levels to rise, thus creating a false impression that it is still daytime and keeping children up.  

"My clock says 4:15 a.m., but surely it is only ten in the morning!"

But this study is more focused on the general nature of televisions as opposed to actual video games.  Our friends at the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine sought to put video games in the foreground of their study and compared how long it took teenagers to fall asleep after either playing "Call of Duty" or watching "March of the Penguins".  After both groups finished their event, which was limited to 50 minutes, the difference in the time it took to fall asleep was only 4.5 minutes.  Not the big difference that most where hoping for.  As the study chose a contrast between tranquility of penguins against the fast paced action of CoD, the argument that violent video games are what cause folks to have trouble sleeping is moot.

The next study combined the two...the kids couldn't sleep for weeks....

With the notion of video games causing difficulty falling asleep pushed aside, the next focus tends to put the all night benders in the limelight.  Unlike the studies that measured how long it takes to fall asleep after playing the games, the real problem is getting away from the games in order to sleep.  As we mentioned before, video games have been scrutinized as being addicting.  Even the researches who performed the Call of Penguin study (not the actual name of the study) agree that no teenager would actually play a video for the limited time provided.

Our Starcraft Masters in South Korea are feeling some government policies that are meant to stop just that...late night over gaming.  In an effort to fight late night video game addiction, South Korea has enacted a curfew to prevent minors from playing online games after midnight.  Even though there is criticism, especially because people think that it is the parents' duties to limit video games, and not the government, it will at least get the 8 year olds offline long enough for me to actually get a few shots off in Halo.

Lobbyists from the 'Under 12' minority group are up in arms...

In my personal experiences, I do tend to stay up way too late playing games.  Sometimes it is because I cannot complete an objective and keep trying at it...other times it is because I am just too sucked into the game, itself.  But then there are some people who have the self control to play just a few matches, then call it quits.  So are video games really the ones to blame for the epidemic of insomnia that hits most men under the age of 30?  Perhaps, but there still needs to be more studies on it.  Until then, the world will still have the most backwards sleeping schedule to date.  And with the rest of the late-night zombie hunters, you'll find me button mashing my way until the sun rises.

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