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Healthy gaming - how to endure an all-nighter

on 22 July 2011

Day one and you just got back from the game store grasping your latest purchase, and already you know it’s going to be a long night. Yep, it’s time for an all-night gaming session!

Every videogame enthusiast knows what an all-nighter feels like -- body tired, eyes sore, and yet you still can’t get some shuteye. While sleep is a very important part of staying healthy - and it is recommended you try and get 8-10 hours of sleep every day - we know that’s just not possible for us folk. As such, here are a few tips that will help make those all night gaming sessions just that little bit easier.

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Eating and Drinking Right

`You are what you eat´ as the old saying goes, and this is very true in many ways. What we eat affects us on many levels, from our energy levels and sex drive, to our ability to remember and process the things around us. Here are some tips on what to eat, and what to avoid.

Snack food has long remained an integral component of any all-nighter, but before you grab a bag of chips and a case of soda, consider a few other suggestions.

Grab a bag of Sunflower seeds or a bag of nuts. These foods are an amazing source of proteins, nutrients and fibres. This helps you on multiple levels. For one, the proteins and nutrients help fuel your mind and body, while the fibre helps to break down and dispose of all the bad stuff trapped inside your digestive system. Furthermore, fibre also helps grow healthy bacteria, leading to overall better long term health.

Avoid soda or caffeinated beverages. Caffeine, while helping you in the short term staying awake, can also make it difficult to fall asleep once you do decide to hit the sack. Try supplementing soda with natural fruit juice, which comes loaded with natural sugars and vitamins. Also, drink lots of water, as this will help keep your body feeling refreshed and awake. Other foods you might want to consider are yogurts, granola, fresh fruits and anything high in protein. Avoid over-eating, as this will make you feel lethargic

Short Exercises

Moving around keeps your blood flowing, which helps keep your mind and body alert and awake. Here are a few small things that you can do to accomplish this.

Sit up straight in your chair, don’t slouch. This does two things; first, it tells your mind that you want your body awake and alert, and second, it relieves pressure off your back.

Get up and move around every hour or so. Again, this keeps the blood flowing and takes the strain off your back. You might use this time to just pause the game, walk around, and make yourself a light snack. One other thing you can do to refresh your mind and body is to lay down, elevate your feet above your head, relax and close your eyes. This reverses the blood flow in your body and works surprisingly well at refreshing the mind.

Power napping is another effective way of recharging your mind. Lay down close your eyes and relax for 5 to 10 minutes. You might be surprised how effective this can be. Taking short breaks from gaming is important, to help relive the strain that staring at a screen for hours can cause.

Winding down and crashing

After a long night of gaming, it can be hard to fall asleep. I would suggest just relaxing for an hour or so before you go to bed. Lie down and get comfortable, but don't try to go to sleep -- just relax your mind. Your brain needs time to understand that it can slow down. Make sure you refrain from watching TV or even reading a book prior to getting some shuteye; the important thing to do is just relax the mind. However, avoid using alcohol before you go to sleep. While this will help relax you and dull the senses, it also works a stimulant for the body.

Healthy gamer, healthy gaming

The more refreshed and healthy your mind and body feels, the better your gaming experience will be. While prolonged gaming is never recommended, we're not going to preach to you as it would be hypocritical; we have the gaming bug just like you do, that compulsion to complete just one more level before turning in for the night, but hopefully this small guide will at least help you achieve that without feeling like hell the next day. Here’s to a healthy gaming session!

Article by Justin Titus