Video Games and Sleep: An Overlooked Challenge
T. Atilla Ceranoglu
Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, YAW 6A, Boston MA 02114, USA.
Keywords: Child and adolescent, computer games, internet, online, problematic internet use, problematic video game play,
sleep, video games.
Background: Video games (VGs) are increasingly becoming the pastime of choice for American youth. Recent
US surveys indicate that up to 99% of adolescents play VGs regularly. Caregivers and clinicians are appropriately concerned
about the effects of VGs on children’s well being. Adolescents' play habits may expose them to negative effects
associated with VG play on sleep.
Methods: This article selectively reviews the literature documenting effects of video game play on sleep. A search of
medical literature was carried out by using the keywords “video games” “computer games,” “sleep,” “mental health” and
“adolescents.” Results: There is a small but growing body of literature examining the extent of VG play effects on sleep.
Timing and duration of VG play are among the most significant circumstances that are associated with changes in sleep
onset latency, total sleep duration and sleep efficiency. Findings on effects on sleep architecture are less consistent.
Conclusions: VG play at night may lead to delay of sleep onset and interfere with sleep duration and efficiency. These effects
appear to be particularly robust in children and young adolescents. Caregiver supervision is crucial in ensuring the
appropriate use of VGs. Clinicians have a valuable opportunity to inform the public about these effects of VG play. More
research focusing on mechanisms of these effects is needed.
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