Video Games and How They Impact Sleep

An increasingly common link to lack of adequate sleep is playing video games before bed. Not only are adults becoming avid gamers, but 97% of children between ages 12-17 are also consistently playing video games in the evening. While playing video games can be a fun way to decompress after a long day, it can have worrisome effects on your sleep quality. Let’s dig into how watching TV or engaging in video game play before bed can lead to sleep problems for both children and adults.

How Do Video Games Impact a Child’s Sleep?

The younger you are, the more sleep you need. On average, children ages 3-5 need at least 13 hours of sleep each night. While this may seem like a lot of sleep, it is crucial for childhood development. Maintaining a routine bedtime may seem easy, but when your children are regularly watching TV or playing video games before bed, the stimulation their brain gets from the blue light of the screen and the excitement of the game or TV program may lead to more tossing or turning than you account for in their bedtime routine.


Michelle Garrison, a research scientist at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, led a study on how playing video games and watching TV affects preschool aged children’s sleep. Garrison asked the parents of 612 children to detail their child’s media consumption for one week, and the results of this study showed that 28% of the children who watched TV or played video games for at least 30 minutes after 7 p.m. had sleep problems most nights. These sleep problems included difficulty falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, and daytime sleepiness. On the other hand, only 19% of the children who engaged in screen time before 7pm reported such sleep problems. Overall, the more time these children spent playing video games in the evening, the more likely they were to experience sleep problems.


The direct takeaway from this is that it is very important to pay attention to how late your children are playing video games or consuming media. Playing video games in the evening, within an hour before bedtime, has more of an impact on sleep than playing them during the day. The American Academy of Pediatrics has even suggested that parents limit their children’s overall nighttime media use.

How Do Video Games Impact an Adult’s Sleep?

Compared to children, adults require significantly less sleep, only needing around 7-9 hours each night. Despite needing less sleep than children, adults need an adequate amount of high quality sleep to stay healthy. Since video games can interfere with melatonin production, they too can have an adverse effect on the quality of sleep adults are getting.


A study shows that adults who never or rarely play video games typically enjoy an average of 8.3 hours of sleep each night, compared to frequent players, who averaged 7.7 hours of sleep each night. While 7.7 hours is still in the range of sleep needed for most adults, many adults would see a significant boost in energy and productivity if they got more sleep. Additionally, 1/3 of adult gamers frequently experienced more trouble falling asleep and more frequent wake times during the night. Conversely, less than 20% of the people who rarely played video games before bed reported difficulty in falling asleep or any other sleep issues.

Despite video games providing various benefits such as problem-solving, promoting teamwork, and improving social skills, like anything, they are best enjoyed in moderation. Video games should not be prioritized over something as important as sleep, and if you are a frequent player, you should keep track of when you play and how much time you dedicate to the game.