Losing Sleep Over Games


If you’re like me, then you’ll have had at least a few nights when you just couldn’t put a game down. When the cold, grey fingers of dawn crept through the un-curtained window and you found yourself waking from a daze, running endlessly into a wall and surrounded by empty crisp-packets or worse, full plates of stone-cold food left there by some well-meaning relative.

World of Warcraft, take a bow, you have made fools of us all.

But some games you manage to knock on the head an hour or two past the time you planned to go to bed, and finding yourself under the sheets you suddenly realize what a terrible mistake you’ve made. Because, you see, you may have finished with the game, but the game isn’t finished with you.

I’ve found myself lying in bed and looking up at imaginary buildings, searching for snipers after a COD session, racing headlong into a concrete wall and physically convulsing in surprise after Burnout and eventually actually shoving my wife after a particularly nerve-shredding Dead Space campaign. The obvious worst games are the ones that keep you on a razor’s edge of tension, requiring lightning reactions to survive. That mindset is hard to shake and the brain usually won’t let go. It would be easy to say just don’t play these games before bed, but that’s a tall order if you’ve been playing all evening on the newest installment.

However I have a solution. Rather than not playing the games with the crazy jumping moments, play them until nearly time to sleep and then switch them out for something of a completely different pace. I’ve found Monkey Island Special Edition to be a fantastic sleep aid. because there’s no need for timing, no ability to die and no fatal mistakes (aside from that ONE bit, which could trip up a sleepy gamer). After twenty minutes play I’m nodding off as my brain calms down and becomes more attuned to dreaming. It may eat a little into your sleep time, but it beats a night of feeling like you’re playing the game scenarios over and over without ever actually achieving anything. Flower would also be a good one, or maybe singing some of the quieter, slower numbers on Rock Band.

Finally, there is actually a lot to be said for just foregoing sleep in favour of gaming every so often. You may feel like hammered shit in the morning, but I acutely remember the time I got home from work, played Final Fantasy VII until dawn, ate breakfast and then went back out to work. I got a lot done that evening and even though I was one of the walking dead that day, at least I could say I got a badass Gold Chocobo and Knights of the Round out of it and utterly destroyed the Ruby Weapon.

  • Nathan Hardisty

    A nice tidy insightful article.

    My experiences of losing sleep over games tend to be related to either a deep EPG like Oblivion or Fallout 3 or some addictive platformer thing like Braid.

  • I thought I was the only one that obsessed with games after I have turned them off. It started for my playing GTA III, I would save the game at a point where I just kept dying and then I would sit awake in bed trying to go to sleep but sleep would never come, as I would be tying to figure a way to get past a certain point in the game. What I do now is I save an hour before I feel I am going to go to sleep and maybe just free roam if the game allows just so I can unwind. Great Article and glad to see I am not the only one to think about the game I am playing once it shut off.

  • ZED

    Same with me. When I played COD4 right before bed I would close my eyes and see the images of what I just did over and over again, but then it stopped…

    And whoever has played Guitar Hero or Rock Band, have you ever played a long songs starring at the screen then after the song is done, you look away from the screen and all the objects in your room are shifting back into place?
    I alwasy got that when I first started playing it. Now it’s stopped…