Can good sleep improve gaming performance? This doctor says yes

Albert Sheng • June 12, 2021 3:54 am

Sleep and gaming aren’t often put together in the same sentence. But there’s a new drive to push healthier habits that can improve performance for competitive gamers, and we talked to one man who is at the crest of that wave.

Dr. Matthew Hermann is behind Pop Sleep, a new option for promoting healthy sleep habits with ease and convenience in mind. It’s targeted in part towards gamers looking to find an edge without having to make big changes to their habits, and it’s part of a big shift in how people in esports look at health and performance. spoke to Dr. Hermann to better understand the roots of his work and what Pop Sleep brings to the table. What first led you to the work that resulted in the creation of Pop Sleep?

Dr. Hermann: I originally worked as a physician in residency at the world’s largest correctional facility, and I would sometimes have to sleep there. That’s what inspired this whole thing. I wanted to help other people get great sleep in crazy conditions.

What is the root issue that Pop Sleep is addressing?

I think the problem is that sleep has drastically changed from what it was a hundred years ago. There is some data showing that people sleep less now than they did before. I wanted people to get better quality sleep.

With gamers and esports competitors specifically, I wanted people to get the effects of sleep aids more quickly. Pop Sleep works within a minute, as opposed to most sleep aids which work in maybe 30-90 minutes.

Why is it that many sleep aids take so long to work?

Most sleep aids, after they’re digested, have to travel through the intestines where most melatonin is absorbed. That process typically takes 30-90 minutes. That’s why many sleep aids may not be working for some people, because they’re just waiting in bed for it to take effect. And you might not want to take it earlier because then you’re just waiting around to absorb it. Sometimes people take giant amounts to compensate and then feel groggy the next day.

When you take Pop Sleep, it goes right through your mouth and into your bloodstream. We’re also able to use maybe a tenth of the active ingredient that some products do, so you don’t feel groggy the next day.

We’re just trying to give your body what it would naturally want. We’re not trying to blast you with a high dose of a sleep aid.

What is it about gamers, and competitive gamers in particular, that makes them so vulnerable to sleep problems?

A lot of us are using electronics all day long. Especially in the evening time, it’s definitely not going to help your sleep. My goal was to create something that would reset the biological clock so you can sleep easier at night.

We’re trying to have people adjust better to being around screens more than we were in the past. Helping with shifting sleep schedules and things like that so you have more of a sense of normalcy. We wanted to help people who deal with a lot of blue light, and people whose sleep schedules are just very different. If something works quicker, you get better feedback from it.

Are there any other habits you’d recommend someone adapt to help improve the quality of their sleep?

There are some sleep hacks you can take on without spending a lot of time. One is just decreasing screen time before bed, but that’s hard for a lot of people. Many of them need to look at screens for work or other reasons.

Exercise is one of the biggest things. Diet and exercise may seem overstated, but even just going on a walk helps. It also helps to stick to a sleep schedule. Whatever the schedule is that works for you.

Consuming caffeine can also make sleep more difficult. After you drink caffeine for just a couple of weeks, you have to take it just to feel normal. Drinking caffeine is fine, but you don’t want to do it in the afternoon or later so it’s not in your body when you do try to sleep.

It seems that the hours many gamers need to put in while competing can make it difficult to practice good sleep habits.

Whatever your passion is in life, you shouldn’t compromise that. If you’re trying to arrange your whole life around getting good sleep, that’s not much of a life. It’s important to work around your passions, and that may entail staying up late or looking at a bunch of screens.

Instead, maybe you just move electronics out of your bedroom, or try to get by with less caffeine.

I set limits for when I’m done for the day. I turn my computer off and walk away. If you’re dedicated to something, stick to a schedule and make commitments. That can go a long way.

Some people are hesitant to make the commitment to taking a sleep aid, even if they’re willing to make big commitments on other things, such as performance hardware. What would you say to those people?

What we’ve made isn’t a fancy gaming mouse. It’s maybe a tenth of the cost. And if you have great sleep, you might not need that expensive equipment quite as much. If your body is ready to go, you’re going to be fine. Great mice and equipment won’t protect you the way good sleep does.


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