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J Clin Sleep Med. 2010 Apr 15;6(2):184-9.

The effect of presleep video-game playing on adolescent sleep.

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School of Psychology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.



Video-game use before bedtime has been linked with poor sleep outcomes for adolescents; however, experimental evidence to support this link is sparse. The present study investigated the capacity of presleep video-game playing to extend sleep latency and reduce subjective feelings of sleepiness in adolescents. The arousing psychophysiologic mechanisms involved and the impact of presleep video-game playing on sleep architecture were also explored.


Thirteen male adolescent "evening types" (mean age = 16.6 years, SD = 1.1) participated in a counterbalanced, within-subjects design with experimental (active video gaming) and control (passive DVD watching) conditions. The experiment was conducted in the Flinders University Sleep Research Laboratory.


Relative to the control condition, presleep video-game playing increased sleep-onset latency (Z= 2.45, p= .01) and reduced subjective sleepiness (Z = 2.36, p = .02)-but only slightly. Video gaming was related to changes in cognitive alertness (as measured by a power: p < 0.01) but not physiologic arousal (as measured by heart rate: p > 0.05). Contrary to previous findings, sleep architecture was unaffected (both rapid eye movement and slow wave sleep: p > 0.05).


Results suggest the direct effect of presleep video-game playing on adolescent sleep may be more modest than previously thought, suggesting that surveys linking stimulating presleep activities to poor sleep need substantiating with empirical evidence.

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