Video game usage, substance use, and sleep among college students

Justin Asbee, Danica C. Slavish, Daniel J. Taylor, Jessica R. Dietch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Video games are a popular form of entertainment, and their popularity is projected to grow in many industrialized nations. Research has indicated that video game usage could have potential benefits and drawbacks on health. One such drawback is poor sleep. Short sleep and poor-quality sleep are linked to increased risk for depression, obesity, all-cause mortality, and diabetes. The current study examined the associations between sleep behaviors and video game usage. Additionally, caffeine and alcohol consumption were investigated, as they may co-occur with excessive video game use and may jointly impact sleep. In the current study 1032 (72% female) undergraduate students were recruited from a university in the southern United States between 2006-2007. Participants completed several questionnaires examining various health behaviors and demographics at baseline, as well as sleep diaries every morning for 1 week, reporting on their sleep from the night before. Researchers conducted statistical analyses using traditional frequentist linear regression models, as well as Bayesian models. Traditional analyses revealed that video game usage was related to increased variability in total sleep time (TST), but not average TST across a week. Alcohol use moderated the relationships between video game usage and TST and variability in TST. Video game usage was not associated with sleep efficiency (SE) or variability on SE, nor was this association moderated by caffeine or alcohol consumption. Caffeine consumption was related to average TST, average SE, and variability in SE, while alcohol consumption was related to variability in TST and variability in SE. Bayesian models suggested little evidence that average or variability in TST was related to video game usage, caffeine consumption, or alcohol consumption. Only caffeine consumption was associated with decreased average SE and increased variability in SE. Overall, this study provides evidence that video game usage is not robustly associated with poor sleep among undergraduate students. However, caffeine or alcohol use may negatively impact the ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Studies should replicate these results using longitudinal or experimental designs to understand the directionality of these effects. Avoiding caffeine or alcohol prior to bedtime may lead to more consolidated sleep among undergraduate students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th European Conference on Game Based Learning, ECGBL 2021
EditorsPanagiotis Fotaris
PublisherDechema e.V.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781914587122
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event15th European Conference on Game Based Learning, ECGBL 2021 - Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: Sep 24 2020Sep 25 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the European Conference on Games-based Learning
ISSN (Print)2049-0992


Conference15th European Conference on Game Based Learning, ECGBL 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Alcohol
  • Bayesian
  • Caffeine
  • Frequentist
  • Sleep
  • Video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Education


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