Remember the last time you were dominating the arena? Pumped up on early kills making you absolutely OP. Then right when you’re about to add another poor soul to your killstreak – your screen starts to freeze. Your abilities miss. And you’re dead.
We all hate lag. It unites us more than any co-op campaign, from Borderlands to Diablo III, ever could.
But Lag doesn’t only exist online. Our key hardware is our body, and IRL lag can do just as much damage to our K/D/A scores if not more (not to mention our health).
But how do we know if we’re suffering from IRL Lag?
If you’ve noticed your eyesight getting worse, you feel more tired and emotional, and your reflexes and focus aren’t what they used to be. These are all signs of what we call body lag.
What’s the cause? Well, there are a few things that can play a part. But for now, let’s look at what our body endures during a nighttime gaming sesh. And we’ll share some easy tips on how we can keep our hardware running smoothly.
Hang in there, cowboy. Let’s dive into the science of it all.
The villain of our late-night gaming is Light.
Sources of light, like the sun or a screen, eventually trigger processes throughout our bodies to affect our entire well-being through our eyes.
There was a groundbreaking discovery that found wavelengths from light reach through our eyes to our neurological receptors (neurons) via intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs).
Once these cells pack up enough light to “head” to the brain, they can change our mood and affect our brainpower by signaling neurons.
While this can have great effects on us during the day. Some light, especially the kind we’re getting at night, can bring out bad symptoms to our health and performance. That leads us to one aggressive form of light in particular (this m****rf****r you’ve definitely heard about before).
How Blue Light Plays a Role
“Long ago, all Light lived in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Blue Light attacked”.
There’s no point going down the list – Blue Light is by far the most common and terrifying of them all. That’s right, the beautiful ocean rendering in Sea of Thieves is actually hurting us during our late-night game sesh.
Blue Light has one of the shortest wavelengths compared to colors like red, green, and orange. This makes it more damaging on the eyes while also mixing signals between our brain and circadian clock.
It’s safe to say that we’ll be mentioning Blue Light quite a lot below.
Alright. Now that we know about light, and especially Blue Light, let’s see how they knock down our HP when we’re on our screens late into the night.
How does Light affect us at Night?
Worsens eye fatigue
A major symptom of harsh light at night is eye fatigue, which covers a whole loot crate of issues (and not the good kind of loot either).
This includes how moist and dry our eyes are, active eye pain from burning to itching. And then effects on our eyesight, like trouble focusing on objects and blurry vision.
These effects get boosted at night because our retina gradually weakens over the day, becoming more vulnerable to aggressive kinds of light. So late-night playing lets Blue Light sneak in with a supereffective attack that stabs our retina (like a sneaky goblin dagger), causing fatigue to come faster than normal.
We mentioned that light can send messages to our brain to stay awake. The reason our brain can do this is because our biological clock (circadian clock), a bunch of cells that are basically the Time-Keepers of our body, schedules functions like a Siri for our insides.
Blue Light suppresses Melatonin, the natural bioactive metabolite that signals our body that it’s ready to go to sleep. And when our body thinks it’s seeing sunlight, a.k.a Blue Light, it acts as if we should be outside hunting and gathering, not dozing off at our desk.
This causes a domino of terrible effects on our sleep-wake behavior, hormone secretion, cellular function… Honestly, there are too many to mention here
That’s why we wrote a whole post about how to survive an all-nighter to cover the topic (you can thank us the next time you pull a Harry Potter movie marathon).
But remember, 95% of people need 6 – 9 hours of sleep. So when our body is stimulated and we can’t fall asleep, there are worse things that happen to us than waking up with less energy. But we’ll get to that next.
Weaker vision, memory loss, and weight gain
During the day, our neurons produce toxins. Including while they filter information via light activity from the ipRG cells.
Our body is all Gucci with them because when it gets a good amount of sleep, it completely resets and the toxins are wiped away by Glial Cells (the janitors and life coaches of our brain’s neurons).
But what happens when we don’t sleep long enough to clear these toxins? Well, our Glial Cells that do the cleaning up definitely don’t live up to a Nicholas Cage window wiper.
- When we don’t sleep for 6 – 9 hours, the toxins stay another night at our body’s hotel.
- This affects how our neurons function and can cause us to be less attentive and impair memory.
- They also challenge our problem-solving processes and lower insulin levels which cause weight gain.
Basically losing out on a full night’s sleep causes way more things to ruin our day than just feeling tired and drained.
And finally, affects motivation, positive feelings, and body movement
We already mentioned that Melatonin production can get blunted, which lulls our body into shutting down for some well-deserved rest.
But bright light is also preventing our Dopamine production at night, a neurotransmitter that regulates how motivated we are to achieve pleasures and results that give us happiness. Less production impacts our memory, focus, and reflexes too.
Gaming during the late hours for many days in a row prevents our body from producing Dopamine, robbing ourselves of “good feelings” as well as those quick clicks we need to win in the arena.
Alright, alright… Point made. Light can really F**K with us. Now what?
Obviously, we’re not going to stop playing video games at night. For some of us, that’s the only time we CAN play.
But if you’re suffering, don’t suffer in silence. Here are some easy tips and tricks that can help with your nightly routine.
Turn off overhead lights
Having bright, overhead lights on while you’re gaming at night can signal the neurons that tell your body the sun is still out. These throw off your biological clock.
Instead, replace overhead lights with dim lighting from lower angles for the least amount of impact. This will help you avoid messing with the production of vital neurotransmitters and keep you chemically balanced (as well as help you fall asleep when you’re ready to).
Set the mood with Red or Infrared Lighting
Blue Light may be a huge “No-No” for your health, but there are other forms of light that are much more supportive for you at night and don’t trigger the neurons as much that connect with your circadian clock.
These include all-natural forms of light like candles or a fireplace. Or if you live in an all-wood cabin and would prefer to stay away from open flames, you can invest in red or infrared lighting. This is because IR and red lighting have longer wavelengths, and don’t aggressively pierce your eyes or provoke feelings of anxiety like Blue Light does.
Get off of screens an hour before sleeping
This one is pretty common knowledge, but that doesn’t mean it’s not right. The best thing you can do for your internal clock, eyes, and biochemical production is to get away from screens at least an hour before you want to go to sleep. This gives your body time to adapt and synchronize bioprocesses, as well as be ready to shut down when the time comes and you want to get your beauty rest.
Eat nutrients that improve your body’s defenses.
If you simply can’t avoid gaming late into the night, then you should consider reinforcing your body with what it needs to maintain your performance and health. You can find sources for vital nutrients in certain foods and supplements that are clinically proven to help maintain your body’s health.
- For keeping your vision in check, you can look at a natural boost to its defenses with carotenoids that contribute against Blue Light and protect vital parts of your eyes. Look at Lutein or Zeaxanthin-rich foods and supplements.
- Natural emotional and energy support can be linked to Maqui berry, a powerful antioxidant, and Vitamin E, a fat-soluble molecule found in extra virgin olive oil (hey, it has a girlfriend. She just goes to another school… that’s why nobody’s seen her).
- While you might hear it more to use against colds, Vitamin C also helps maintain bones and cartilage.
Just keep in mind. If we’re feeling really worn down the best remedy is to take a break. This gives your body time to reset, replenish, and be top-dog before it enters the arena again.
Alright, now you’re ready to go kick some ass during your night-time session.
Go out there and grab your glory.
Witchdoctors of MADMONQ®