Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, YAW 6A, Boston MA 02114, USA.
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.