Sleep, Stamina, and Success: How to Optimize Your Gaming Routine
True gamers know that, no matter the game, victory depends as much on physical attributes as it does on mental ones. To succeed, you need both strength and endurance. You have to have the physical toughness and cognitive clarity to operate at peak performance, no matter how many successive hours of game time.
Tournaments, for instance, can span many hours of gameplay over a number of consecutive days. And often, it’s not the one who’s smartest, quickest, or wiliest who comes out on top. It’s the one who has the conditioning and the stamina, to keep going when even the most talented begin to falter.
That’s an ability that doesn’t just happen. If you want to be the best gamer you can be, then investing as much time and effort into your health as to your game is a must. We’ll show you how.
Chronic dehydration is one of the most significant health risks gamers face, and the one that can have the most deleterious effect on their stamina and performance. Gamers typically spend successive hours each day honing their craft.
Many turn to sugary or highly caffeinated drinks for a quick energy boost, but the jolt of a sugary drink is short-lived. The “crash” that follows leaves you feeling more tired and less cognitively clear, so you reach for another drink, only to experience the same vicious spike/crash cycle.
And while your glucose (blood sugar) levels soar and dive, the caffeine that so many of these drinks contain in such enormous amounts is leaching your body of water. Caffeine is a natural diuretic and that means that they’re going to increase the risk of dehydration, which can leave you feeling extremely fatigued, weak, and lethargic.
Over time, chronic dehydration can lead to even more severe, and long-lasting, health issues, including kidney disease. To build true endurance, rather than the temporary and often unhealthy boost of caffeine and sugar, avoid sodas and energy drinks and go for water instead.
Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule as to how much water, exactly, a person should drink daily. Your needs will vary depending on a range of factors, from your overall health to your gender to the temperature outside to your physical activity levels. It also depends on how much fluid you’re getting from other foods and drinks. Many fruits and vegetables, for instance, have a high water content.
It can help to remember, though, that, if you’re thirsty, you’re not getting enough water and are already becoming dehydrated. So, to avoid chronic dehydration, ensure you’re eating lots of water-rich fruits and vegetables, drinking unsweetened and non-caffeinated fluids, including water, and never allowing yourself to get thirsty.
Rest for the Weary
There’s a reason why gaming is increasingly being recognized as an e-sport. Gamers know how physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting gaming can be. This is why, when you want to build your stamina, optimize your performance, and enhance your health, prioritizing rest is key.
If you’ve ever experienced insomnia or wakefulness in the night, then you know that a good night’s sleep doesn’t just happen. Restful sleep takes preparation. The choices you make during the daytime will determine the quality of your sleep at night.
For example, if you spend hours on end staring at digital screens without taking frequent breaks, you may be putting yourself at risk for insomnia. There’s increasing evidence, for example, that the blue light emitted by digital screens may inhibit the brain’s ability to produce melatonin, a neurotransmitter essential for healthy sleep.
In addition to decreasing your blue light exposure, taking frequent breaks gives you the opportunity to clear your head and enjoy a bit of physical activity. That is important both for your physical and mental health, providing a reprieve from the stressors of the game and from negative environments in some corners of the online gaming world. Using your downtime to get outside and enjoy a bit of fresh air and sunshine, will boost your mood, improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen your muscles, and loosen your joints. And that means you’re going to feel physically better, more relaxed, and less stressed when you settle down to sleep at night.
Your gaming setup and equipment can also have a significant impact on how you sleep. Ergonomic stands, for instance, can improve your posture during gameplay, preventing muscle and joint strain that could very well keep you up at night. Similarly, using blue light-blocking glasses or controls that ensure you’re keeping a healthy distance from the digital screen may both protect your eyes and improve your sleep.
Gamers are, in many ways, the world’s next-generation athletes. Success in e-sports requires tremendous strength and stamina. And that makes it incumbent on gamers not only to cultivate their craft but also to prioritize their physical and mental wellness, from keeping well-hydrated to cultivating consistent, high-quality sleep.