As we found out in our ‘Win Well’ gamers survey, most of our community like to game at night. For many of us, that’s the time we can dive out of the workday and dive into some fun by joining our friends online. Sometimes though, having too much fun before bed can be a bad thing, and because gaming is pretty intense— it can get our bodies and brains revved up in ways that are hard to turn off, and this is particularly unhelpful when we’re trying to go to sleep soon after. It’s this rapid transition from high-intensity play to trying to switch off that so often stops us from getting good-quality sleep which is essential for… well, pretty much everything.
So, here are some tips on how to switch off and calm your mind after a night of gaming so you can get a good night’s rest.
Devices off and screens away
Scientists and experts have been telling us for years now: Screen time before bedtime is a no-go. Have we listened? Not always. But those scientists and experts are right. The artificial blue light from the screens of our devices negatively impacts our body’s ability to regulate its sleep-wake cycles and produce the necessary amounts of melatonin—i.e. blue light makes it a lot harder for us to fall asleep, sleep well through the night, and stay on a consistent sleep schedule. To avoid that, it’s best to turn your devices off and stop looking at screens of all varieties at least 30 minutes before going to bed. That gives your brain a little buffer, allowing it to recalibrate from game time to sleep time.
If you’re someone who needs to do something else to take your thoughts away from the game, try doing activities that don’t involve screens afterward. Read a book, journal, sketch, or make a list of what you need to do the next day or what you’re grateful for in the day that just happened. Whatever it is, try to use the time to take your thoughts from the high-octane environment of the game and set them on a slower pace and if you can’t do this, try giving some blue light blocking glasses a GO! (More on that in a later blog!)
Get your body ready
A lot of games tend to put us in stressful, high-intensity circumstances that cause tension all throughout the body. As with working out and playing other athletic games, it’s important to relieve that muscle tension and let the body release the toxins and acid that get built up. We, along with the results of many studies, recommend stretching as soon as you’ve turned off your devices. Build it into your post-gaming routine, and we promise you’ll notice a big difference in how you feel.
You might also find it useful to pair your stretching with breathing exercises or meditation. As we wrote about in this post, deep breathing and meditation are proven to help calm and refocus the mind. Deep breathing stimulates increased oxygenation of our cells, which helps lower your heart rate and reduce blood pressure, decreasing stress overall. Meditation also improves physical calm and relaxation as well as psychological balance.
Additionally, our bodies tend to grow calmer with some hot water in them—or on them. Taking a warm bath can help you breathe easier and release tension in your muscles and joints. Drinking a warm beverage, too—such as warm milk or herbal tea—has a soothing effect. However, make sure the beverage of choice does not include caffeine or alcohol, considering that both of those can cause significant sleep issues and counteract any good effects other sleep-inducing measures might have had.
Get your space ready
First of all, make sure that the space you sleep in is not the same space you game in, if possible. When our brains associate certain spaces with certain activities, it can be hard to turn off thoughts and behaviors linked to those activities even when we’re not doing them. Just like you don’t work where you sleep, you don’t want to game where you sleep either.
Now, how your bedroom or sleeping space feels can have a big effect on your quality of sleep. Studies show that we sleep best when the room is sufficiently dark and on the cool side—ideally between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s important, too, that your room is quiet and peaceful. If you live in an area that has a lot of street or outside noise, you might find it helpful to have a fan or white noise machine for the nighttime. Alternatively, some people prefer to play soft, soothing music.
Lastly, try to straighten up your space before going to bed. A 2015 study showed that those with cluttered surroundings were more likely to have a sleep disorder than those with tidier spaces. It gives us peace of mind when our space reflects peace, too.
Have a routine
Most everyone thrives on routine. That’s true generally, and for sleep, there’s no exception. Our body takes cues to let it know it’s time to sleep, and cues that we build in ourselves are very effective. So, if that’s turning off your games and devices, stretching, brushing your teeth, and reading before lights-out, great! Just try to stick to a similar routine every night.
Even if you don’t implement all of the tips above, we all but guarantee that adopting even just a few will cause you to sleep more soundly. And as we always say, the better you sleep, the healthier you will be, and the better gamer you will be all around. Curious to learn more on this topic? Check out our post, How to Improve Your Sleep as a Gamer.
Sleep well, gamers, and Win Well.