Sleep

The impacts of sleep on gaming performance

“Sleep while your dead” is a common phrase we’ve all heard. However, for gamers we like to think of it as “sleep, or you’ll be dead”. Its that simple.

Barry Bridges

January 8, 2020

Did you know the average person spends 26 years of their life asleep? Everyone knows we need 8 hours of sleep a night, a third of your given 24, but how important is it to how we function during the day? Sleep science is a relatively new academic discipline but has much to offer, especially to those of us who spend a lot of time around technology.

So what happens to us when we don't get our 8 hours of proper sleep?

  • Increased food cravings, caused by an elevation in ghrelin and a decrease in Leptin, these hormones control appetite and hunger (2).
  • Increased fatigue, leading to a slowing of responses, an increase in hesitation, and increased likelihood to make mistakes (3), for games where reaction speeds can be the difference in winning and losing, a few hours of lost sleep could be crucial.
  • Without adequate sleep we have less energy for tasks (4).
  • Our immune system suffers (5).
  • Our ability to pay attention decreases and our short-term memory deteriorates. If your sleep is consistently bad, this can lead to long-term memory problems and difficulty in decision making (6).

So what are some positives when we do manage to get enough sleep?

  • Helps build muscle after resistance training. When we sleep we produce Growth Hormone (GH) which aids muscle development (7) and also helps repair injuries (8).
  • Sleep helps with learning, it is pivotal for memory and helping the brain learn new techniques or processes (9). To master a new strategy or new champion, your sleep pattern could be crucial.
  • Following a regular sleep routine, sleep can help to reduce stress (10), improve concentration (11), and even regulate mood (12).

More and more we’re realising that getting the right sleep affects your performance. By the time the playoffs come around, you can really tell who took care of themselves and who didn’t.
Andrew Ference

We can clearly see that not sleeping well, or having a poor sleep pattern can lead to a big impact on players and their ability to perform.

The physical and mental strain imposed on players through sleep deprivation, combined with stress, can lead to the development of injuries, illnesses or conditions such as burnout, therefore coaches and managers should place importance on adequate sleep to mitigate this.

The impact of short-term sleep loss may be evident to players and managers, however long-term sleep deprivation can be an equally big problem that may go unnoticed.

Some players may feel they can overcome a lack of sleep with energy drinks or caffeine tablets, however a study has shown that despite these stimulants, your brain will still be worse off due to lack of sleep (13). To get the best performance out of players, in training or in tournaments, sleep should not be ignored

So the next time you think about staying up late for a couple more games, consider the impacts to not only your win rate, but also your health and happiness too!

References

  1. Curtis, G. (2017). Your Life In Numbers. Available:dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/your-life-in-numbers-infographic
  2. Taheri S, Lin L, Austin D, Young T, Mignot E (2004) Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. PLoS Med 1(3): e62. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062
  3. Lim, J. and Dinges, D.F. (2008), Sleep Deprivation and Vigilant Attention. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1129: 305-322. doi:10.1196/annals.1417.002
  4. Engle-Friedman M. (2014). The effects of sleep loss on capacity and effort. Sleep science (Sao Paulo, Brazil), 7(4), 213–224. doi:10.1016/j.slsci.2014.11.001
  5. Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Born, J. (2012). Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Archiv : European journal of physiology, 463(1), 121–137. doi:10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0
  6. Alhola, P., & Polo-Kantola, P. (2007). Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 3(5), 553–567.
  7. Kim, T. W., Jeong, J. H., & Hong, S. C. (2015). The impact of sleep and circadian disturbance on hormones and metabolism. International journal of endocrinology, 2015, 591729. doi:10.1155/2015/591729
  8. Viral Chikani and Ken K Y Ho. (2014). Action of GH on skeletal muscle function: molecular and metabolic mechanisms. Journal of Molecular Endocrinology. doi.org/10.1530/JME-13-0208
  9. Barner, C., Altgassen, M., Born, J. and Diekelmann, S. (2019), Effects of sleep on the realization of complex plans. J Sleep Res, 28: e12655. doi:10.1111/jsr.12655
  10. Hicks, R. A., & Garcia, E. R. (1987). Level of Stress and Sleep Duration. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 64(1), 44–46. doi.org/10.2466/pms.1987.64.1.44
  11. Meijer, , Habekothé, and Van Den Wittenboer, (2000), Time in bed, quality of sleep and school functioning of children. Journal of Sleep Research, 9: 145-153. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2869.2000.00198.x
  12. June J. Pilcher, Allen I. Huffcutt, Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Performance: A Meta-Analysis, Sleep, Volume 19, Issue 4, June 1996, Pages 318–326, doi.org/10.1093/sleep/19.4.318
  13. Killgore, William.. (2019). Effects of sleep deprivation on cognition. Progress in Brain Research. 185, 105-129 doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-53702-7.00007-5

Barry Bridges

Sleep Specialist

Barry is a qualified Sport Scientist and Internationally Certified in Sleep Science, Sports Performance, Golf Fitness and FMS Movement Testing.

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