Video Games and Sleep

Photo by Ron Lach on

Before I start this story, I should remind my readers that I love gaming. I’m pretty sure this story isn’t going to do the world’s perspective of us any favors, but this is a unique experience I had 2 decades ago while being sleep deprived and playing videogames.

I remember playing Medal of Honor on the PS1 during the summer between 9th and 10th grades. Daddy found a new girlfriend around that time and was spending most of the days living with her. He’d only come back to check on me and see if we needed groceries, and to spend the weekends with me and my sister when it was her weekend to live with us.

  • I could have a boyfriend come over and umm… “play”.
  • I could eat what I want.
  • I could go to bed when I wanted.
  • I could listen to music and watch TV however loudly I desired.

I had a blast!

Someone gave me a Medal of Honor game around my birthday, so when my dad left to go visit his new girlfriend, I started playing it… nonstop. I went from level to level, and only took breaks to: pee, drink tea, shower & brush my teeth, watch the local & world news, play with my boyfriend, and check to make sure all the doors & windows were locked (I didn’t eat much).

I did this for 3 to 4 days.

Yes, I’m sure there are players out there who can speedrun the remake in a couple hours or so, but this was the dawn of the millennium, and most games were time consuming and challenging back then. Access to cheat codes was virtually nonexistent as well since the smartest device in the house was the family’s Windows 98 PC, and getting that thing connected to the internet was a pain.

I played this game day and night. I’d get back from my boyfriend’s house in the evening and switch the TV over to my PlayStation and play. I glanced out a window once or twice and notice that it was dark as night outside, and after a couple missions, it was bright as day. I’d do my morning hygienic ritual and went back to my game.

With each mission I completed, I had a sense that I was getting closer to beating the game. I didn’t want to stop until I made it to the end. I was on the mission where I was tasked to sabotage the Nazi’s heavy water plant when I was forced to stop for sleep.

I was progressing through the level when a German soldier appeared behind me, in my house, and yelled, “Halt it Americana!”

I heard that German (or burglar) yell at me from behind, so in one swift motion I:

  1. Rolled out of the couch while taking care to push the pause button.
  2. Peeked over the edge of the couch while pointing my wireless remote as though it was a handgun.
  3. Quickly get up and ran around to the other side of the couch to check if the intruder was hiding behind it.

There were a lot of hooligans in my neighborhood, and I lived there with the looming possibility they may break in at some point. I checked and double-checked the locks on the doors and windows throughout the house, the garage, and I even checked the attic. I only decided it was time to sleep when I appeased my paranoia enough to be certain, beyond a shadow of doubt, I was the only living creature taller than 2 inches in the house.

I ended up sleeping for about a day and a half, only waking once or twice to pee and drink. I don’t remember what my dreams were specifically about while I slept, but I recall they were in PS1 graphics. Everything was cubic and angular and the people in the dreams were cartoonish.

I woke from my hibernation and did my “morning” ritual, even though I got out of bed in the afternoon. I was eager to complete my mission, and hopefully the game, so I powered up my TV and was thankful the game was still paused. I finished that mission and beat the game that day.


I still enjoy playing video games for hours on end, but I play in moderation and make certain gaming doesn’t interfere with any scheduled social commitments and household tasks. There’s a lot of things helping to maintain that healthy balance, such as: working 9 to 5, going to the gym, reading, writing, and the occasional social visit with friends.

Sleep also helps to keep me from gaming all night. I used to be able to stay awake all night and function the next day at work, but that changed once I hit 30. My body now requires at least 4 to 5-hours of sleep or I’ll suffer the next day. I still slip up and play until 2 or 3 AM in the morning… sometimes.

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