How Gaming Affects Your Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Patterns

min read
A man on a bed with a smartphone in his hand.
BetMGM Jul 14, 2023, 2:50 AM

You know how it goes. You jump online for one quick go at the jackpot slots and the next thing you know, you’re on a winning streak and it’s way past your bedtime. You reluctantly log out and hit the sack, but your mind’s buzzing with excitement; you’re pumped. You think maybe a few casino games online might be the answer, but you’ve got a big meeting in the morning and you need to sleep. 

You may not realize it immediately, but this pattern of behavior can quickly affect your sleep rhythms in the long term. Read on to find out how.

The Nature of Gaming and Sleep Disruption

There’s no doubt that gaming stimulates the brain and gets the adrenaline flowing. Gaming is exciting and mentally arousing. Our heart rate quickens as we play, meaning we’ll take longer to relax and eventually fall asleep.

The very nature of online gaming is often fast-paced and requires clear focus and concentration. You can’t play at a live dealer online casino and not pay attention. You can’t be half in a game; you have to be fully committed. You need to watch the cards and make quick decisions, and for that, you need your wits about you. Small wonder your mind is racing by the time you call it quits for the night.

If you’re playing casino table games or any other form of gaming on your mobile phone, tablet, laptop or computer, the artificial blue screen light emitted by the device is going to deceive your brain into thinking it’s daytime. Your body will stop producing melatonin, a sleep hormone that the body starts to secrete a few hours before bedtime to start winding our systems down and to prepare us to transition into sleep. Just two hours’ exposure to blue light when we play casino online or even watch TV can prevent us from getting a proper night’s sleep.

A new generation of fully immersive games using virtual reality and AI is changing the online entertainment environment and can cause havoc with our sleep patterns. Tearing yourself away can prove difficult; you’re there, in the moment, in an exotic casino destination by the sea, perhaps – far from your bedroom – and thoughts of sleep go out the window.

How Much Sleep Do We Need?

Most people require seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but younger and older people may need more. Young adults may think they’re night owls and old people think it’s part of aging to be an insomniac, but they’re perpetuating poor sleep patterns by staying up and gaming, as that’s what’s preventing them from sleeping in the first place. In adolescents, this may simply be video games – there is, after all, a legal age for gambling – but older people can make their own choices about which online casino games to play and when.

Not getting enough sleep can result in serious health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure and higher risks of a heart attack or stroke, so it’s important to listen to your body and get as much sleep as it naturally demands.

Things We Can Do To Manage Our Sleep

Knowing that gaming, especially in the evening, can have an impact on sleep habits means being aware of how long and how late your body can tolerate your gaming sessions before you begin to feel the physical and mental health effects of too many late nights. Understanding how gamers sleep can help you find your own routine that ensures you get the optimum number of hours of sleep that suit your lifestyle and keep you safe and healthy. Here are some other tips for good sleep hygiene.

1. Set A Time Limit For Your Gaming Session

If the only time you have for some online gaming fun is in the evening after work, try to set a time limit for your online session. If it’s live dealer casinos, you need to know when to deal yourself out of the game, or if it’s slots, after the last spin, shut the computer down. You know how you can lose yourself in the excitement, so make sure you set an alarm or have someone come and remind you it’s time to stop.

2. Have A Power Down Hour Before Your Intended Bedtime

When you set your time limit, make sure your session ends at least an hour before your intended bedtime, preferably two. Both the adrenaline of the games and the blue screen light are stimulants and your body takes time to come down from the artificial high. Having a relaxing “power down hour” last thing at night can help you fall asleep more quickly and get some proper, quality sleep.

3. Play in Your Own Time Zone

If you’re playing interactive games with other people, try to stay in your own time zone. Maybe your playing partner is only in the middle of their day when it’s late evening for you. They’re just getting started when you should be thinking of stopping. If you’re playing online blackjack live dealer games, you’re playing in real-time – and the dealer never sleeps – but if you’re chatting to someone on the East Coast and you’re on the West, it could be a long night for you.

4. Balance Physical Activity With Gaming Time

Online gaming is cerebral and sedentary. We need to strike a balance in our lives between mental and physical activity, so make sure you get plenty of exercise as well as flexing your brain muscle. Exercise also helps you to sleep better. By its nature, it tires you out, so factor some outdoor or gym time into your days alongside your gaming.

Life is all about balance. We need to work, spend time with friends and family as well as find something we love to do in our leisure time. If that’s gaming, you can register at BetMGM to play online – healthily and responsibly.

But we also need to sleep to rest our minds and bodies and replenish our energy levels. Sleep is important for good mental and physical health and well-being, so make sure you don’t neglect it.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.