The effect of presleep video-game playing on adolescent sleep

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


Study objectives: 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.

Method: 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.

Results: 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).

Conclusions: 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arousal
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cognition
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Electrooculography
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep Stages
  • Sleep*
  • Video Games / psychology*
  • Video Games / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wakefulness