Scrolling through social media feeds is a favourite of the modern day generation, however once again scientific research has indicated that social media use before bed can also have a detrimental effect on sleep quality and quantity.
In our last article, we discussed the importance of sleep and its impacts on your gaming. This week we are giving you our top 3 tips on how to improve your sleep that you may not have heard before!
Identify your chronotype to plan your daily schedule
A chronotype is defined as a personal genetic factor linked to your sleep routine, affecting your alertness, mood and performance throughout the day. The two main categories of chronotypes are Lark (morning person) and Owl (Evening person) (1). Identifying which chronotype you are allows you to:
- Know when is the best time to sleep and wake. This enables you to improve your sleep quality and quantity which is not only beneficial for your general health, but also cognitive function (2), recovery (3) and gaming performance!
- Identify times of optimal functioning – both mentally and physically. If you identify that you are an ‘Owl’ it may be best to try and plan more important scrims or competitions later on in the day. Your training regime can be tailored around your peak performance to maximise your learning.
- Plan when it is best to exercise. Chronotype identification enables you to start understanding when your energy levels peak and therefore plan exercise around this time. If you have more energy for exercise not only will this allow you to train harder but it may also mean that you are more likely to train all together! We’ve all been there when our brains tell us we’re tired and we don’t want to train. Therefore, by ensuring we are planning training when energy levels are at their highest, these thoughts will be minimised
You can take a quick quiz here to find out if you are a Lark or an Owl.
Aim for natural sunlight in the morning
As gamers, we spend an extraordinary amount of time indoors in front of monitors or using lamps instead of daylight to avoid glare. However, natural sunlight is key for sleep and to maximise energy levels (4).
When we are exposed to sunlight in the morning, our body secretes a hormone called serotonin which plays an important role in regulating our mood and making us feel calm and relaxed (5). It also positively affects our sleep-wake cycle meaning we can wake up feeling fresh and energized.
There are often times where it is near impossible to get natural sunlight on a daily basis and this is where a Daylight Lamp can become a very useful tool. A Daylight Lamp is a device that has an especially bright bulb that is able to mimic the effects of regular daylight in terms of lighting and health benefits for the body. These lamps are particularly useful to help balance our sleep cycle during the darker months when we can’t get enough sunlight. However, you should always aim for natural sunlight when you can, aim for at least 5-15 mins of daily sunlight, we recommend doing this while taking breaks between your gaming sessions on a leisurely walk.
Following a regular sleep routine can help to reduce stress, improve concentration, and regulate mood.
Eliminate technology before bed
As gamers, we are constantly busy in the day and often late into the evening balancing school, work, gaming practice and more, we can often be staring at screens all day long.
As a result, a problem gamers often face when they try to sleep is that their mind is still active, still thinking and processing. A solution to this is a technology free period before attempting to sleep. Engaging with technology – especially video games, right before bed, has been shown by a growing body of research to significantly impair both sleep quality and quantity (6). Collectively, mobile phones, tablets, computers and video games at night are associated with increased difficulty falling asleep and less restful sleep (7).
Scrolling through social media feeds is a favourite of the modern day generation, however once again scientific research has indicated that social media use before bed can also have a detrimental effect on sleep quality and quantity (8). One of the main reasons for this is due to the reduction in melatonin release which is the hormone responsible for promoting sleep. Blue light exposure which is synonymous with electronic screen use, is responsible for this drop in melatonin secretion. A recent study showed that by blocking blue light 4 hours before bed, subjects had 24 minutes more sleep and sleep onset occurred 27 minutes earlier compared to the control group (9). To maximise sleep quality and quantity steer clear of electronic devices at least an hour before bed. Instead you could read a book, do some stretches after a long day or even take a bath to relax.
If you still find your brain active before bed you could try doing a ‘brain dump’, a writing exercise where you make a note of things that you keep thinking about, such as work, practice, scrims, your plans for the week, your failures or criticisms faced, it can be anything. Writing these thoughts down can help to de-stress and process the thoughts that normally flood your mind as soon as your head hits the pillow. Less time thinking, more time sleeping.
- Roenneberg, T., Wirz-Justice, A. and Merrow, M., 2003. Life between clocks: daily temporal patterns of human chronotypes. Journal of biological rhythms, 18(1), pp.80-90.
- Fullagar, H.H., Skorski, S., Duffield, R., Hammes, D., Coutts, A.J. and Meyer, T., 2015. Sleep and athletic performance: the effects of sleep loss on exercise performance, and physiological and cognitive responses to exercise. Sports medicine, 45(2), pp.161-186.
- Samuels, C., 2008. Sleep, recovery, and performance: the new frontier in high-performance athletics. Neurologic clinics, 26(1), pp.169-180.
- Boubekri, M., Cheung, I.N., Reid, K.J., Wang, C.H. and Zee, P.C., 2014. Impact of windows and daylight exposure on overall health and sleep quality of office workers: a case-control pilot study. Journal of clinical sleep medicine, 10(06), pp.603-611.
- Baixauli, E., 2017. Happiness: Role of Dopamine and Serotonin on mood and negative emotions. Emergency Medicine, 7, p.350.
- Altintas, E., Karaca, Y., Hullaert, T. and Tassi, P., 2019. Sleep quality and video game playing: Effect of intensity of video game playing and mental health. Psychiatry research, 273, pp.487-492.
- Gradisar, M., Wolfson, A.R., Harvey, A.G., Hale, L., Rosenberg, R. and Czeisler, C.A., 2013. The sleep and technology use of Americans: findings from the National Sleep Foundation’s 2011 Sleep in America poll. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
- Levenson, J.C., Shensa, A., Sidani, J.E., Colditz, J.B. and Primack, B.A., 2016. The association between social media use and sleep disturbance among young adults. Preventive medicine, 85, pp.36-41.
- Ostrin, L.A., Abbott, K.S. and Queener, H.M., 2017. Attenuation of short wavelengths alters sleep and the IP RGC pupil response. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 37(4), pp.440-450.