Computer/console gamers who play for more than seven hours a week and who identify their gaming as an addiction sleep less during the weekdays and experience greater sleepiness than casual or non-gamers, according to a research abstract presented on Monday, June 8 at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
Results of the study indicate that excessive gamers have significantly poorer sleep hygiene and sleep less on weekdays than other gamers; a significant positive correlation was found between the hours of game play and sleepiness. Gamers who reported that their gaming interfered with sleep slept for 1.6 hours less than other gamers, while those who claimed to be addicted to gaming slept one hour less on weekdays.
According to principal investigator Amanda Woolems, at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, AR., previous research has shown that excessive gamers spend less time in bed, have longer sleep latency and shorter REM latency.
“Our statistics revealed that those who admitted addiction scored higher on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (sleepiness),” said Woolems. “It surprised us, however, that of the people who admitted being addicted to gaming, only about a third of them recognized an interference with their sleep.”
The study examined data from 137 students recruited from the university who were enrolled in introductory psychology courses. Participants’ mean age was 22 years and a majority of the sample was women (86). Gamers were classified as casual or excessive (those who spend more than seven hours a week using the internet and playing computer games), based on a demographic questionnaire and sleepiness was assessed subjectively through questionnaires. Of the total sample, 10.81 percent reported that gaming interfered with their sleep and 12.6 identified themselves as being addicted to gaming.
Authors of the study suggest that maladaptive sleep hygiene found among excessive gamers is a target for intervention to promote improved sleep.
The AASM recommends that adults get eight hours of sleep per night and that adolescents get nine hours. Tips to improve sleep hygiene are available here.
Those who suspect that they might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist at a sleep center accredited by the AASM.
[Kelly Wagner @ American Academy of Sleep Medicine]