Games, the brain, and sleep. How are they connected?

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Hi, i'm new to PF. So here goes...

If i get a new game, i usually play if a lot (since it's new and all). I probably play it late. That night though, i get a lot of trouble sleeping. I keep waking up (sleep walking, or some form of that) and i'll have my hands infront of me thinking i'm playing the game. When i actually do get some sleep, i will dream of the game and alternate story lines to it. I might get 2 hours of good, solid sleep that night. This occurence also might happen for a couple of nights. Does anyone know why this happens and how it relates to the brain. I've also tried to cut down on the hours i play the game for the first time, and it doesn't seem to help much.
 

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  • #2
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This is a very unusual thing you have happening here, and I don't know what to tell you.

It wouldn't be surprising if you reported that you fell asleep merely thinking abot the game, or if you had a dream about it, but the sort of sleepwalking thing is pretty unusual.

Do you ever sleepwalk on other occasions?
 
  • #3
somasimple
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  • #4
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  • #5
somasimple
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Hi,

Sleep disorder is a common thing with game addiction.
When I was playing DII for many hours, I dreamed about it with recurrence and had the same behaviours than him.
A game may be obsessive if used over a normal duration.
 
  • #6
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somasimple said:
I dreamed about it with recurrence and had the same behaviours than him.
You go up during the night acting out playing the game?
 
  • #7
hypnagogue
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It's not clear to me at all that Ramster's sleep problems are due to video game addiction. His/her problems might be due to gaming addiction, but they might not be as well, and it's awfully irresponsible to go throwing around a "diagnosis" like that on such little information with such high confidence.

From http://www.mediafamily.org/facts/facts_gameaddiction.shtml [Broken] :

Symptoms of computer or video game addiction:

For children:

* Most of non-school hours are spent on the computer or playing video games.
* Falling asleep in school.
* Not keeping up with assignments.
* Worsening grades.
* Lying about computer or video game use.
* Choosing to use the computer or play video games, rather than see friends.
* Dropping out of other social groups (clubs or sports).
* Irritable when not playing a video game or on the computer.

For adults:

* Computer or video game use is characterized by intense feelings of pleasure and guilt.
* Obsessing and pre-occupied about being on the computer, even when not connected.
* Hours playing video games or on the computer increasing, seriously disrupting family, social or even work life.
* Lying about computer or video game use.
* Experience feelings of withdrawal, anger, or depression when not on the computer or involved with their video game.
* May incur large phone or credit bills for on-line services.
* Can't control computer or video game use.
* Fantasy life on-line replaces emotional life with partner.

There are even physical symptoms that may point to addiction:

* Carpal tunnel syndrome.
* Sleep disturbances
* Back, neck aches
* Headaches
* Dry eyes
* Failure to eat regularly or neglect personal hygiene
It is indicated here that sleep disturbances may be symptomatic of an addiction. And it's also clear that video game addiction is a serious problem, so somasimple's "diagnosis" is no trivial thing either. It would be prudent to ask more questions and be more cautious before jumping in like that, somasimple. Please try to be a little more responsible.

Ramster, I would not take your sleep problems to automatically imply that you have a problematic addiction, but you might want to look at the above website or do some Google searches to see if the descriptions of video game addiction find any resonance with your overall situation.
 
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  • #8
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hypnagogue said:
It's not clear to me at all that Ramster's sleep problems are due to video game addiction. His/her problems might be due to gaming addiction, but they might not be as well, and it's awfully irresponsible to go throwing around a "diagnosis" like that on such little information with such high confidence.
It does seem precipitous, yes. The problem seems only to arise with new games, and he also reported being able to cut down on the time he spends on new games, but without allieviating the problem.

There is some kind of perseveration of focus on the learning process of a new game that I have never heard of in conjunction with anything.
 
  • #9
somasimple
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You go up during the night acting out playing the game?
The asker never said that he was nightwalking but was still awoke.

I was playing the game during my dreams. Sleep disorder that happens after playing a new game seems to have its origin in the game? (Of course it may not)
 
  • #10
somasimple
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It does seem precipitous, yes.
I used my clinical reasonning => diagnosis => (story + knowledge) = symptoms (symptoms+medical practice) = fast response
 
  • #11
Moonbear
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An addiction wouldn't manifest itself only upon introduction of a new stimulus (new game). That just doesn't make sense considering the process of addiction. An addiction should get stronger with recurring exposure, not weaker. If the reaction is only once, that just doesn't fit with addiction at all. Besides, he's saying he's only playing a lot when the game is new...novel. With an addiction, you'd increase your playing time even as the novelty wore off, to the exclusion of other activities.

The sleepwalking is a concern, and it could be that the stimulation of the game is triggering some other underlying sleep disorder. A professional should be consulted about that though.

As for the general sleeplessness, one factor could easily be the mental stimulation. It wouldn't be much different than a kid who has trouble sleeping on Christmas Eve or the night before their birthday because they are excited with anticipation of a fun day filled with presents. Another factor could be the amount of time you're spending in front of a brightly lit computer screen (or even in a brightly lit room) and the effect of that bright light on your sleep-wake cycle.

Some people just have very active minds at night and that can be a cause of sleep disturbance when you just can't slow your mind down from thinking about whatever you were doing all day. It could have been an exciting day talking to an old friend on the phone, or worrying about a homework assignment, or anticipating a class trip, or anything. That part doesn't concern me at all as long as it only lasts as long as the game is "new."

The sleepwalking would be more of a concern, and may be entirely unrelated, although possible triggered by the other disruptions of your sleep patterns. Mostly, that's a concern just for your safety that you don't walk somewhere where you hurt yourself.
 
  • #12
zoobyshoe said:
This is a very unusual thing you have happening here, and I don't know what to tell you.

It wouldn't be surprising if you reported that you fell asleep merely thinking abot the game, or if you had a dream about it, but the sort of sleepwalking thing is pretty unusual.

Do you ever sleepwalk on other occasions?
Thanks for the fast respond. No, i do not sleep walk at all. I've never slept walked ever until this occurence. And this sleep walking this doesn't occur the whole night. I don't stay up all night acting it out. If this had happened i would have seen a doctor ages ago. But, ususally this happens only that night. Then i sleep just fine. I've read all the posts and they relate to the theory's had had going on. There is always that warning that someone should not have media interactions for atleast 10 minutes before sleeping because the mind stays active. So i'm guessing that's what happens.
 
  • #13
zoobyshoe said:
You go up during the night acting out playing the game?
No. Simply, dream about playing, and maybe "acting it out" for a few minutes.
 
  • #14
Ramster, I would not take your sleep problems to automatically imply that you have a problematic addiction, but you might want to look at the above website or do some Google searches to see if the descriptions of video game addiction find any resonance with your overall situation.-hypnagogue

I checked the list of symptoms, and i can honestly say i do not have one of them. I am a very good student at school taking advanced classes. I don't ever fall asleep in class. And i never play video games during the week. Only on weekends (not including Sunday. If i do play sundays, i keep it to a minimum) for a couple of hours friday and saturday nights. I do not get the symptoms on those nights at all. I actually sleep better than on weekdays.
 
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  • #15
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i think its that you over attenuating your attention system...i have the same problem.
Video games are high stimulation(rts,rpg,fpss)...Thus when you've constantly playing you get that rush...the arousal to stay awake...like people who love to read on end...or work on end. oor go exercising...

I mean look at the opposite sideof things...when your watching tv your less attenuated(unless you watch science/jeopardy)...you become lazy...and your system doesn't become as active enough. You sleep more.


onc eyou fall outta the active habit you sleep long hours I'd think
 
  • #16
that does seem to make sense
 
  • #17
hypnagogue
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Well, it's good to know you don't have an addiction problem. I sometimes get something sort of similar, where if I've been playing a game a lot (usually a simple puzzle game like Tetris or minesweeper) not long before going to sleep, I'll actually see spontaneously generated game situations in my mind's eye and I'll also see the pieces move as if I'm trying to solve the puzzle at hand. None of this happens voluntarily, not even the active puzzle-solving part. I suppose you have something like this but just in a much more acute form.

My guess is that it has something to do with learning-- the brain is trying to take in all this new information, make sense of it and internalize it. It has been shown that when people first try out Tetris, many different portions of the brain are active at once (roughly corresponding to a higher involvement in conscious activity) since they have to pay close attention to what's going on, figure out how to play and what strategies to use, get used to the game in general, etc. When experienced players play Tetris, only a couple of small, localized regions show up as having more activity than usual-- the task of playing Tetris is no longer novel and so no longer requires full cognitive resources, but rather has largely been taken over by unconscious brain processes. In other words, the task has become 'automatic,' just as, say, tying your shoe is now automatic for you. You don't have to think about it or pay close attention, you can just do it on autopilot, so to speak.

So my best guess at what is going on here is that after you play these new games, your brain is very much in the process of learning how to play them, what to expect in certain in-game situations, and in general getting familiarized with the game overall. Learning seems to work by first recruiting wide cognitive resources (many of which are implicated in consciousness, such as attention, subjective sense of effort, etc.) and somehow using this whirling cauldron of activity to create dedicated, specialist subsystems in the brain that can eventually take over and do the task automatically (unconsciously) without requiring many conscious resources. So perhaps your brain is caught up in such activity, but for some reason the learning process is reactivating, or overactivating, those parts of your brain that lead you to consciously experience playing the game (whereas for other people, the brain might be working on all this learning stuff after playing the game, but on an unconscious level). There are hypotheses that one function of dreaming sleep is to help the brain sort through recently acquired information, integrating and storing the relevant stuff and discarding the rest, which relates to my above speculations and might help explain why this is happening in your sleep.

I really don't know why it should disturb your sleep patterns so much, though, beyond generally being more stimulated than usual. Are you a light sleeper in general? Do you tend to experience vivid dreams or vivid hypnagogic or hypnopompic imagery?

I'm also not quite clear on your 'sleepwalking' episodes. I get the impression that a few minutes after falling asleep you wake up and find your hands are moving as if you were holding the controller playing the game, is that correct?
 
  • #18
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heh talking about dreaming video games...i play dod and man do i dream alot about being in the game and tossing nades and butting people in the head with the rifle.

THen liek a week ago...i dream i was in marios early games....and i smashed my head on the jump.
 
  • #19
There are hypotheses that one function of dreaming sleep is to help the brain sort through recently acquired information, integrating and storing the relevant stuff and discarding the rest, which relates to my above speculations and might help explain why this is happening in your sleep.- hypnagogue

Yes, i was thinking about that while i was reading your explaination.

I'm also not quite clear on your 'sleepwalking' episodes. I get the impression that a few minutes after falling asleep you wake up and find your hands are moving as if you were holding the controller playing the game, is that correct?-hypnagogue

Yes, this is correct. But I think you had already explained this in the second paragraph on your last post. Though it might only happen once or twice. I don't wake up 20 times during the night. Though, yes, i would wake up and and, i guess, "imagine" having a controler in my hands, or typing on a keyboard.

If you are finding this very strange or weird...you are not alone. I think this is bizzare to since i don't know anyone else who has had this except for somasimple who posted here.

About the hypnagogic or hypnopompic imagery, i'm not sure what thos mean, sry. Could you explain? And i do tend to sleep light sometimes, and there are some nights when i have very deep sleep.
 
  • #20
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hypnagogue said:
...but for some reason the learning process is reactivating, or overactivating...
This sounds right, and it seems to be linked to the acquisition of this particular kind of skill, not learning in general.

Funny you should mention tetris. The first and only time I played it the image of the screen seemed to get burned onto my retinas: I couldn't close my eyes without seeing it. Something about the way that game is designed. It didn't happen with pac-man.
 
  • #21
hypnagogue
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Ramster5678 said:
If you are finding this very strange or weird...you are not alone. I think this is bizzare to since i don't know anyone else who has had this except for somasimple who posted here.
Not terribly so-- as I mentioned, I think I've experienced something similar, but to a lesser degree. Besides, everyone probably goes through life experiencing at least several things that most would find strange or weird. (Just see this thread for verification: Anomalous, extraordinary, or otherwise interesting conscious experiences :biggrin:)

Ramster5678 said:
About the hypnagogic or hypnopompic imagery, i'm not sure what thos mean, sry. Could you explain? And i do tend to sleep light sometimes, and there are some nights when i have very deep sleep.
Hypnagogic imagery is the strange sort of pseudo-dream experience one sometimes has in the intermediary stages between wakefulness and falling asleep. This can involve e.g. visual or auditory hallucinations. Hypnopompic imagery is more or less the same sort of thing, but occurs in the intermediary stages between sleeping and waking up.
 
  • #22
hypnagogue said:
Hypnagogic imagery is the strange sort of pseudo-dream experience one sometimes has in the intermediary stages between wakefulness and falling asleep. This can involve e.g. visual or auditory hallucinations. Hypnopompic imagery is more or less the same sort of thing, but occurs in the intermediary stages between sleeping and waking up.
yes, i think that Hypnagogic is about right. This incident has happened to me once before, but it did not involve games at all. I was sleeping then i would wake up, and i would see a penny, lying at the tip of my bed, and i tried to grab it, but it went right through my hand! That same night, i had this same experience except with a pencil box. I go to swip it off the bed, but my hand goes right through it. I don't remember how i got out of this incident, i might have just gone back to sleep or it just went away as i (with no success) tried to get it off my bed. This, though, only happened once.
 
  • #23
So, from what I interpret, after i go to sleep, my brain is still learning the game and how to play it. This causes my brain to be very active and allows me to go through Hypnagogic imagery.
 
  • #24
hypnagogue
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Ramster5678 said:
So, from what I interpret, after i go to sleep, my brain is still learning the game and how to play it. This causes my brain to be very active and allows me to go through Hypnagogic imagery.
That's pretty much what I hypothesized above, but keep in mind that it's just a best guess or speculation from a relatively uninformed person. (I do have a fair amount of familiarity with mind/brain topics, but I'm not an expert.) I think my speculation might be on the right track for a number of reasons, but it could be very wrong also.

By the way, I don't think the episodes you described in the intial post are examples of hypnagogic imagery. They occurred in your sleep, so they were just dream imagery. Hypnagogic imagery occurs when you're still somewhat awake but are closing in on full-blown sleep.

edit: However, the episodes you describe in post #22 might be hypnopompic imagery, since they occurred right after you awoke from sleep. Those are fascinating experiences you logged in post #22, by the way; you should put an entry into the anomalous experience thread.

edit 2: As regards your experiences described in post #22, how sure are you that you actually woke up? Can you rule out the possibility that you might have still been dreaming without realizing it at the time?
 
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  • #25
hypnagogue said:
edit: However, the episodes you describe in post #22 might be hypnopompic imagery, since they occurred right after you awoke from sleep. Those are fascinating experiences you logged in post #22, by the way; you should put an entry into the anomalous experience thread.
What category is this thread in? Is it in "The Mind and Brain" category?

hypnagogue said:
edit 2: As regards your experiences described in post #22, how sure are you that you actually woke up? Can you rule out the possibility that you might have still been dreaming without realizing it at the time?
I can't be too sure of this, but it seemed so real and clear. I went back to sleep after it disapeared/gave up. Though, the whole thing could have been a dream, but i'm, pretty sure it wasn't.
 

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