Your team shouts in your ear, as you see a massive #1 flash across your screen. A rush of adrenaline shoots through you. Your friends celebrate a hard-won victory during your last game of the night. You tell your team great job and head to bed, knowing you have a busy day ahead of you...
Maybe you just wanted to play some chilled-out games after a long day of work or school before bed. You timed it just right so that by the time the game is off and you're in bed you should get the exact number of hours you need to sleep in order to function the next day...any minute now you’ll be asleep...any second.
3 hours later you're in a panic because sleep isn't coming but the day is.
I'm sure this dilemma sounds familiar. Not surprisingly around 3 quarters of gamers have reported mild to severe insomnia.
What is the insomniac gamer? The insomniac gamer is anyone who has sleep issues or disorders due to gaming or a complimentary issue.
So…why can't gamers sleep? Whelp today I’m here to tell you ...
THE THREE REASONS WHY GAMERS CAN'T SLEEP.
#1: THE MELATONIN MYTH:
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that helps your body regulate circadian rhythm i.e. your body's awareness of the night-day cycle
Today, it's a popular synthetic OTC supplement for sleep.
“Yeah, I’ve heard of it, and guess what? It didn’t work for me.” - Gamer
WHY DOESN’T MELATONIN WORK FOR YOU?
Guess what? MELATONIN ISN’T A SLEEP DRUG!!!
That’s right, melatonin does not make you feel sleepy.
Melatonin just lets your body know it's dark outside so your body knows it needs to make changes in preparation for sleep; Changes such as body temperature and respiration rate reductions.
“Well hold on article guy, I take melatonin and it worked great”! - Different Gamer
WHY DOES MELATONIN WORK FOR YOU?
Straight melatonin does a fantastic job at helping people get to sleep whose fundamental issues are skipping or staying awake past their natural melatonin cycle.
For instance, people with jet lag or night shifters. Or people who look at bright screens during nighttime... AHEM!!
That blue light tricks your circadian rhythm into delaying its melatonin cycle.
Melatonin and Gaming
As gamers, many of us take advantage of the night to get our gameplay in. Whether it's because of daily responsibilities like work or school, or simply because that’s when most other players are on, gaming at night has become the standard. This affects our circadian rhythm and melatonin cycle in two ways.
Due to light coming from your monitor or phone your circadian rhythm might never notice day turned to night, so it never sends out the appropriate signals to begin your melatonin cycle.
The second way our late-night gaming affects our rhythm is that we simply ignore the signal from our body. Most of us are not ready for sleep when it gets dark, so we ignore the effects of melatonin. Eventually, melatonin disappears. So when we are finally ready to sleep, we are long past the melatonin cycle and have a much harder time going to bed.
“Fine I get it, that kind of sounds like me... but I take melatonin and still can't fall asleep. Why?” - Gamer who is not the first two Gamers
Let's move on to reason number two...
#2 SLEEP PRESSURE, ADENOSINE, & CAFFEINE
Adenosine is an incredible chemical found in our bodies. Ad
enosine does many different things in the body depending on its form (ATP/ AMP/ ADP). On its own, however, it's responsible for the ever-building sleep pressure we feel the longer we are awake.
When discussing sleep pressure, mental fatigue, and physical exhaustion we are discussing the effects of adenosine. In fact, caffeine, the OG gameplay nootropic, works by blocking adenosine from connecting to receptors in your brain. While we can temporarily block adenosine from creating sleep pressure with caffeine, adenosine is still there, so when the caffeine clears, you crash. The only time we can actually decrease adenosine levels in the brain is, you guessed it, when we sleep.
Surprisingly, adenosine and the circadian rhythm are completely independent of one another.
“Okay now that my head hurts mister article guy, explain how this helps me.” - A Third Gamer Guy
ADENOSINE AND GAMING
There are two important things to note about adenosine and your sleep.
Adenosine is a crucial part of feeling tired.
When we drink our Gfuel, Ghost, or any other energy drink supplement we block adenosine from attaching to its receptors until the caffeine is drained from our body, WHICH CAN TAKE UP TO 10 HOURS to completely clear your system. That means be mindful of when you are drinking caffeinated drinks and when you want to sleep.
Sleep schedule is an important part of managing your adenosine. As gamers, many of us end up playing at very odd hours leading to later sleep times, either because we got off late or have trouble sleeping. This all leads to you waking up later in the morn- let's be honest afternoon.
Later wake times mean later adenosine build-up. A lack of adenosine means a lack of sleep pressure when you try to sleep at a normal time. This leads to a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation.
“Okay Brah, I haven't blasted my system with caffeine, my circadian rhythm is doing its job, melatonin's a flowing...BUT I STILL CAN'T SLEEP.”
This leads us to the last crucial step in getting the sleep we crave.
#3 STAY CALM.
Boy, this sleep stuff can be stressful!
(see what I did there ;D )
That’s right, Stress, nerves, and excitement are all detrimental to our sleep.
Thanks to our long history on this planet of trying not to die, (seriously it's like all we did for most of our existence) our sympathetic nervous system is ready to deliver bolts of energy at a moment's notice. Presentations, competitions, a fight you had with a spouse, an intense game you played... these all lead to an activated Fight or Flight response. Notice the word sleep is not part of that response. Yeah, when your body gets that boost of adrenaline, sleep is off the table.
Here’s the kicker, ever really need to be asleep? Maybe you must be up for something important in a few hours, and you got to bed a little late? Well, that sure sounds stressful... better activate your Fight or Flight response... that’s right, WE GET STRESSED ABOUT NOT SLEEPING SO WE SLEEP EVEN LESS! I mean come on, that’s just unfair.
Sympathetic Nervous System and Gaming
Whether you're competing online, surviving the wilds, or playing through a compelling story, gaming gets your adrenaline pumping. And turning off the game doesn’t turn off your nerves.
Obviously, stress control is extremely important. Make sure you have enough time between turning off the game and going to sleep to relax and decompress. Ideally an hour.
Breathing exercises, physical fitness, and
mitigating stress around bedtime all help.
“Okay, but what if I need more help, I still have a tough time controlling all these factors in my life” - A very attractive and intelligent gamer (you 😉 )
A LITTLE EXTRA HELP
REMEDIES FOR INSOMNIAC GAMERS
Hey, we get it.
Life is crazy and sometimes we need a little AID. So, what should an effective sleep aid do and not do?
While there are some fantastic sleep aids out there, navigating and understanding them can be difficult, especially since most are targeting a different crowd than the gaming community. You also want to try and avoid using sleep aids every night as you may build up a tolerance/dependency on them.
What makes a bad sleep-aid?
DO NOT USE ANTI-HISTAMINES AS A SLEEP-AID!
Many antihistamines, such as Benadryl, for instance, use the active ingredient diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine can cause fast-acting prolonged sleep but was not designed to be sold as a sleep aid for a good reason. Diphenhydramine and other histamine blockers lead to a worse state of sleep: they cause individuals to skip parts of their sleep cycle. This can lead to less effective sleep, next-day grogginess, and even memory loss or dementia if abused.
So now that I've sufficiently scared you away from antihistamines let's talk about natural sleep aids.
What makes a good sleep-aid?
An ideal sleep aid should be able to address the previously stated issues without flooding your system with unnecessary adulterants.
The sleep-aid should be able to relax you physically, activate or regulate your melatonin cycle, and calm your nervous system. A good sleep aid should also improve sleep quality.
What good sleep aids should not do:
A natural sleep aid should not force someone to sleep, just strongly encourage it. A natural sleep aid should avoid creating next-day grogginess (differing from sleep aids that are meant to keep people asleep). Lastly, a natural sleep aid should NOT force the user to choose between quality sleep and sleep aid.
As sleep aids are supplements and not medicine, it is crucial to know where your sleep aids are made, what sort of checks are done to ensure the sleep aid contains its stated contents, and why each ingredient is in the sleep aid. Unfortunately, many sleep aids contain redundant ingredients.
And that's it my faithful reader, we’re done…
GET OUTTA HERE!
What? You want more?
“I don't want to go look for sleep aids, I already spent too much time reading your article” - You
Fair ‘nuff. Lucky for you, you don't have to. Because guess what…
WE HAVE A SLEEP AID!
BOOM!!! Bet your mind is blown right now.
This was all a giant mother freaking Addddd!!!
You got played and now you have to buy our sleep-aid. Those be the rules Yall.
JK JK. In all seriousness, we made an awesome mix drink sleep aid for gamers so that you don’t have to ask yourself, “why can’t gamers sleep?” ever again. It addresses everything we discussed today.
Keeping true to our beliefs we made sure to minimize the number of supplements going into your body while maximizing the effects!
The active ingredients we hand-picked for our sleep aids are…
Valerian Root: to inhibit the breakdown of GABA.
Magnesium: to chemically activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Melatonin: to send signals to the body to prepare for sleep.
I WANT TO TRY THE SLEEP AID!