As any hardcore gamer will tell you, sometimes the lure of “just one more level” proves too much. It’s only when the sun begins to rise that you realise perhaps you’ve been playing a little too long. Is the occasional late night something to worry about though?
Research presented today at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, suggests that it might be. Amanda Woolems of the University of Arkansas found that “excessive” gamers sleep less than casual gamers. There was a positive correlation between hours played and sleepiness as rated by the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, and participants who reported that gaming interfered with their sleep slept 1.6 hours a night less than other gamers. Those claiming to be addicted to gaming also slept one hour less on weekdays.
The study surveyed 137 students, the majority (86) of which were women. Just under 11% said that gaming interfered with their sleep, whilst close to 13% admitted a gaming addiction.
Fairly conclusive you might think, but I’ve got one problem with this research: the definition of “excessive” gaming. Participants who spent more than seven hours a week using the internet and playing games fell under this definition. To my mind, this isn’t excessive, it’s normal – especially considering the mean age of the participants was 22. I’d be very surprised if any of them spent less than seven hours a week on the internet, let alone gaming. But then why internet use even being included, if the study is looking at gaming?
Unfortunately, details are scare because this is research being presented at a conference rather than published. It also likely hasn’t undergone peer-review yet. Whilst the definition of excessive shouldn’t influence the results too much, it does call in to question the other factors measured in this research and how they were defined. Until I see anything more conclusive, I won’t worry about the occasional all-nighter.