Perhaps you've noticed that playing games immediately before you go to bed has an adverse effect on how well you sleep. Masters students at Flinders University have been looking for evidence to make this link official, and have come to a shocking conclusion (opens in new tab): Playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (opens in new tab) before you go to bed does affect how well you sleep, but only as much as watching wildlife documentary March of the Penguins. Oh.
Yes, it seems the type of entertainment that keeps your brain active doesn't seem to matter, but attempting to sleep right after audio/visual stimulation is a bad idea. In the study, 17 participants played a newly released, fast-paced, violent video game for either 50 or 150 minutes on two different nights, with sleep and heart-rate monitors as well as subjective reports from the teenagers used to assess the arousing effects of prolonged gaming.
According to child sleep psychologist Dr Michael Gradisar, who supervised the study, there was a 27-minute loss in total sleep time after 150 minutes of gaming based on the polysomnography tests and a 39-minute delay in sleep onset according to the participants' sleep diaries. Crikey.
"Based on the self-reports, those who played for 50 minutes said it took them 22 minutes to fall asleep, which is within the normal amount of time teens take of 30 minutes or less," he said. "But their sleep onset delay almost doubled to 39 minutes when they played for two and a half hours so clearly there's a limit to how much you should play before bed."
The doctor pointed out that his past research showed little difference in teens who watched 50 minutes of the March of the Penguins documentary or played 50 minutes of Call of Duty 4 before bed.
Personally, we find that old Resident Evil games give us dreams about zombies and reloading several guns in preparation for more zombies... Perhaps watching March of the Penguins will yeild similar results. Reloading penguins in preparation for more penguins, perhaps?