The 48-Hour Marathon “Gaming and Health”
It’s 4 a.m. Your room is dark, lit only by the glow of a monitor. You gaze upward from your slouching position at the bags of Doritos, the discarded Taco Bell wrappers, the cups of coffee, and bottles of 5-Hour Energy which adorn your once-spotless battlestation. Your stomach grumbles and you drop your hand over the arm of your chair to pull up another unopened bag of Doritos.
Glad I went into this all-nighter prepared, you think.
It’s fun to pretend that, going into a marathon session of gaming, the best practice is to eat instant food, disregard exercise, and focus on the task of staying awake. When planning a long session of gaming, it’s just taken for granted that the act of gaming for 48 hours, or god forbid, more, will be an unhealthy process rewarded by more time practicing in-game or having fun. We’ve assembled some tips here which, while they may not redeem a marathon session of gaming in the eyes of a doctor, might help you get through to the end more easily, more pleasantly, and to some degree, more healthily.
First, the legal stuff.
Disclaimer: All material in this guide is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.
The information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgement available to the authors. Readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries. In addition, the information and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of every member of Legacy, . Legacy acknowledges occasional differences in opinion and welcomes the exchange of different viewpoints. Team Legacy is not responsible for errors or omissions.
Note: We are not making this guide to say “sleep more often, drink less soda”. That destroys the concept of this guide. We are making this guide as the halfway mark for those who that are going to drink soda and stay up 48 hours anyway, what methods of vitamin/liquid consumption will best help them, and other environmental factors such as the ambient surroundings, etc.
Health and gaming are not usually synonymous. Gamers like to stay up all night and live off chips, fast food, pizza, and soda. Exercise is anathema for some. If you want to seriously change your lifestyle for the better, this guide is not for you. This guide is for those who have absolutely horrible habits, but want to at least make some efforts at health so that they can game better and not feel like crap during a 24 to 48 hour marathon of gaming. The topics we will touch on here include everything from sleeping, energy drink effectiveness, and preparing for that 24 hour release day, to lighting, posture, and finger dexterity. Health directly impacts our bodies ability to function. That function includes the brain, your reflexes, focus, and other things that directly impact your ability to game. Any serious gamer should be serious about their health as well. This guide aims to be a first stepping stone on that road to better health and better gaming, not the ultimate health nut guide.
First you want to ask yourself, “Am I prepared and committed to a long marathon of gaming?” If your motivation is weak, your goals nonexistent, or your real life will interrupt, your marathon has a strong chance of failing. Preparing ahead of time can help increase your chances of success and also increase your level of enjoyment.
An important factor to consider before committing to a marathon is what your gaming goals will be for the first 24-48 hours of the game. Do you want to be the first person to level 80? Perhaps you want to jump to the top of the SPvP or WvW scene. Maybe you want to quickly master your skills in the new game, or many other micro or macro goals. Some goals are more suited to marathon play than others. Consider this: as you rack up the hours of game play, your body and mind will become fatigued; this will impact your reflex speed, concentration, and every other aspect of your brain functioning including your ability to learn. These aspects of staying up for 24-48 hours might affect your ability to achieve your goals, or might change the order in which you wish to accomplish them.
If you have more than one goal for your marathon, it is best to put the most thinking intensive one first if possible. For example, if you want to SPvP for at least 6 hours of your 48 hours and also grind to as high of a level as possible, it might be prudent to do the SPvP close to the beginning of your marathon while your brain is fresh and save the PvE for when your reflexes start to dull. If your major goal for your marathon involves any kind of intense learning, you might want to reconsider a marathon, as sleep is when your body cements what you have learned into long term memory. For this reason marathons are best for simple goals that do not require a high amount of mental acuity like grinding out levels, leveling your crafting, large group activities that do not require perfect timing (like world events), playing the market, or gathering resources, etc.
Accomplishing a marathon with a group of friends or with your guild can help increase the pleasure and success of your marathon. Organize your plan of action before the big day so everyone knows what they need to plan for. If you and your guild wish to accomplish PvP goals like WvW domination or SPvP fame, you might want to work in shifts after the first 12 hours of play. An organized period when certain members get to rest can help revitalize your group and keep the guild as a whole steamrolling the entire 48 hours. Food for thought.
What are considered to be the major lacking vitamins in a gamer’s diet? Vitamin D3 (not as important post childhood, a few min in the sun can take care of your daily need),
I did not find any study focusing on gamer vitamin deficiencies, however literature suggests that common vitamin deficiencies that are associated with brain function in developed nations include vitamin B 6 and 9, vitamin D, and A (Kennedy & Haskell, 2011). As a gamer I would focus on all of the vitamins that are currently linked with cognition which include Vitamins A, B (all), C, D and E (Kennedy & Haskell, 2011). There has been a lot of publicity around the B vitamins but all of these vitamins listed play a vital role in cognition, for example vitamin C is more highly concentrated near your neurons than in your blood and is vital in the production of some brain chemicals as well as acting as an major antioxidant. Supplements can be purchased easily for these vitamins, and they are typically included in any multivitamin. However care should be used when choosing which brand as a lot of products have low potency and so are a waste of money. It is easy to google for potency lists, just beware of who made the list.
Some vitamins are water soluble and some vitamins are fat soluble. This is important to know because fat soluble vitamins have the potential of reaching toxic levels if you over consume from supplements. Of the vitamins listed above, the fat soluble ones are vitamins A, D and E. If you choose to take supplements for these vitamins follow the bottles instructions carefully. While deficiency in these vitamins is shown to decrease cognitive abilities, or even cause mental diseases, over abundance of these vitamins has not yet been show to boost cognition either (Kennedy & Haskell, 2011). This means that it will affect you if you are deficient, but having 5000% of the vitamin will not give you any further advantages over having 500%. So downing an energy drink with 5000% vitamin B would only boost you if you were currently deficient in this vitamin. [Reference: Kennedy, D. O. & Haskell, C. F. (2011). Vitamins and cognition what is the evidence? Drugs 71(15) pp 1857-1971.]
Vitamin D can become a problem if you never see a wink of sun. Getting about ten minutes of good sun exposure can produce enough vitamin D for the day, so go walk around the block for ten minutes in the afternoon! Gamers that have darker skin (the pigment in our skin acts as a natural sunblock) or who are not fully grown yet might need supplementation or more than ten minutes of sun. If you feel depressed, live in an area with little sunshine, or are tired despite sleeping, you might also benefit from more vitamin D in the form of a supplement.
I would say gamers that have a poor diet are lacking in most vitamins that are not found in potato chips. A multivitamin can do the trick, but it should be one with a high potency (otherwise you are just swallowing a rock). http://www.multivitaminguide.org/ has a list of companies and rates them on composition, bioavailability (ablility to be absorbed), synergistic effect (correct ratio to other vitamins), and potency (strength), I do not know who funds them however. I went with Xtendlife Multi-Xtra as it was the cheapest one near the top at about $20 a month.
As we all know through personal experience and well-known health statistics, sleep is amazing. “But when I’m sleeping, I can’t play video games.” While this is true, you cannot underestimate the effects that sleep deprivation has on your mental and physical state. You might think that if you just bash down a six-pack of Red Bull, order two pizzas, and make a Taco Bell run everything will be fine, but this lifestyle has adverse effects on your body. There are many healthier and easier ways to embark on an all-night gaming journey than the “traditional” or stereotypical method.
Continuous use of video games, television, and computers from childhood has been linked to a lack of Vitamin D (Study observed in children). Often when people form a lifestyle based around indoor activities, they are outside less and less. Lack of outdoor activity deprives the body of the natural Vitamin D which it makes from sunlight on the skin. Vitamin D deprivation is also a threat, as drinks like soda are starting to replace milk in common diets. This can cause various problems in bone strength over time. Getting outside and keeping track of Vitamin D intake when you can (through drinks and multivitamins) can help improve your health.
Before considering any single type of vitamin replacement, consider an “all-in-one”. Humans in the modern world tend to rely on poor diets of ready made meals, or fast food. If you are not already taking a multivitamin, it is probably time to start, or seriously up the daily dose of fruits and vegetables. Take a multivitamin along with any sort of supplement with amino acids and fish oils. For those who worry about joint pain, Osteoflex is an amazing joint medicine which keeps the cartilage in your joints intact from prolonged use.
-What’s the truth about energy drinks? Why do they work? Are they good for you? Not at all!
Energy drinks are a go-to staple for gamers looking to pull long sessions. They cause your body to lie to you about how tired it really is. You can use them to dodge the grogginess that comes from sleep deprivation, but don’t forget to eat and drink water throughout your session.
If your body is already well nourished, you may find that energy drinks and boosters are largely unnecessary. The body runs primarily on sugars and starch for energy; make sure you eat well balanced meals all throughout the marathon and you can avoid supplements. If you’re bent on a caffeine buzz, here’s an easy to understand video on the history of caffeine, how it works, and how it affects the brain.
In a review paper by Lieberman for the U.S. Military Nutrition Division, it was found that the optimal dose of caffeine for a sleep deprivation setting was 200mg (2003). Caffeine was found to help increase the soldier’s ability to focus, increased their reaction time, and even helped to improve their aim (Lieberman, 2003). This has implications for gamers as well, as caffeine has the potential of improving gamer functioning. It was found that caffeine produced positive effects before sleep deprivation (while rested) compared to the control group with no caffeine, and that the effects peak at one hour after administration of the caffeine and wear out by the 8 hour mark (Lieberman, 2003). Lieberman also found that doses above 200 mg were not as effective, and participants in the study who received 300 mg might even experience a decline in alertness and reflex speed. The effects of a 200 mg dose could last for up to 8 hours, so taking too much caffeine within that time period might cause a decline in player abilities. In the above section on vitamins it was also noted that having an overabundance of a vitamin has not been proven to improve cognitive factors, yet. So you may achieve your 200mg of caffeine in any method you prefer, and I would not worry about vitamin B levels unless you think you are deficient, but it also doesn’t hurt you to try it. [Reference: Lieberman, H. R. (2003). Nutrition, brain function and cognitive performance. Appetite 40(3) pp 245-254. doi:10.1016/S0195-6663(03)00010-2.]
The most accurate, and cost effective way to achieve your 200 mg of caffeine is in pill form, but be cautious of adding other caffeine sources or if you are not used to taking caffeine. NoDoz or a generic Caffeine pill can be found in most stores with an OTC drug section, each pill typically is 200 mg, and is considerably cheaper than buying energy drinks. Also vitamin B complex is a lot cheaper per daily dose than getting it through energy drinks.
Pay attention to the different kinds of drinks, and know what you’re getting yourself into:
- 5-Hour energy probably no better than a cup of coffee
- Energy Drinks contain (largely) less caffeine than coffee, and the vitamins don’t do much unless you have a deficiency.
List of energy drinks and their caffeine per ounce:
[Someone want to augment this with basic nutrition, like the caffeine a can of each contains?]
- Red Bull – 9.6 mg/oz
- Monster Rehab (tea+lemonade) – 10.6 mg/oz
- Monster Java – 10.6 mg/oz
- Monster – 10 mg/oz
- Nerd – 10 mg/oz
- Bawls – 6.7 mg/oz
- Rockstar – 10 mg/oz
- 5-Hour Energy – 69 mg/oz
- NOS – 16.2 mg/oz
- Coffee – 16.6 mg/oz
- Tea (depending on variety) – 5-15 mg/oz
Recommendation: Caffeine and sugar are the main active ingredients in soda, energy drinks, and coffee. Pick whichever tastes the best to you, as none of them seem to be definitively superior. Green tea is also a very good alternative and can be made into some delicious types of drinks. [Alternative or addition: Taking in too much sugar can cause you to crash. Simple sugars found in sodas and sports drinks have not been shown to be superior to complex carbohydrates like maltodextrin in boosting your brain function (Lieberman, 2003). It is best to get your calories from food and stick to lower calorie drinks. Maltodextrin drinks are not widespread on the marketplace so it can also be harder to locate. Monster Rehab rojo tea energy drink is one example that I could find.]
Don’t overdo it! If you want to stay on a caffeine buzz throughout the marathon, do it slowly over time. Drinking seven cans of your choice beverage in an hour is a great way to give yourself heart failure.
Dehydration: Most energy drinks are a diuretic, causing you to urinate more and thus lose water. Be sure to consume some extra water if you are going through several energy drinks.
Preventing post energy drink crash: Often times, once an energy drink wears out, you are in a worse position than when you started. This is often a result of dehydration or hunger. Preventing this is simple, don’t use the energy drink as a replacement for food and water, use it as a supplement and be sure to eat and drink properly so that you aren’t relying solely on the caffeine or sugar. Sometimes with energy drinks you won’t feel hungry, but it’s important that you at least consume a small snack to avoid a hunger headache.
Remember, the brain runs on sugar, but the body has a hard time processing too much of it. Too much sucrose (table sugar) causes the body to produce more insulin, and can negate the energy gain. Too much fructose (corn syrup and most fruits) can interfere with the liver. Diabetes can be caused by over-consuming sugars, as the body will try to ramp up insulin production to deal with it. Pay attention to the sugar you’re getting from other sources (food) and try not to overdo it to avoid problems. Of course you need some sugar, but probably not as much as you’re accustomed to.
A healthier substitute for Energy Drinks: Throughout many years of hands-on testing of sleepless nights, I have found that if you take half a can of red bull and mix it with the same amount of cranberry juice, you get a tasty as well as a healthier version of Red Bull. It takes the bitter aftertaste of the cranberry juice and adds a kick. It is recommended to use only half a can at a time, but you will love the combination. The cranberry juice adds a few vitamins the body lacks normally to begin with.
If you intend to take short naps (highly recommended) make sure to avoid energy drinks for a couple of hours beforehand to flush the caffeine out of your system. While the relationship isn’t well understood, high amounts of caffeine will disrupt your sleep and make it difficult to rest well during the nap.
Cheap alternative to energy drinks, generic NoDose (caffeine pills) and sublingual vitamin B pills, save you money, and you don’t have to worry about the taste.
It’s Game Time
Okay, so your marathon is coming up in a few days, now it’s time to start preparing your body for it. You know you will need consistent energy in the foods you will eat but you aren’t really sure what is best.
When you are planning a marathon ahead of time (release days for example) you can prepare food and stock up on rest prior to the event. To prevent a coronary you might consider preparing easy to reheat foods before the big day. Get some tupperware and make a big batch of pasta with your favorite sauce (mmm stroganoff) and separate it into meals, or cut up some bite sized veggies so that you can have something healthy between bags of chips. If you are still at home or have a wife, you can also coordinate your meal plans with them so that they aren’t expecting you at the table and so that you can have your food delivered to your desk (you can hope).
As for what food types to eat, there are various recommendations, but most people agree that you should have a major starch (a grain, like bread or rice), a vegetable, a fruit, and a protein in every meal. This provides balance, and varying the proteins, fruits, and vegetables will net you all of the nutrients you need over the course of several days. Fish and chicken are great healthy sources of proteins. If you need to avoid meats, eggs are an excellent alternative. If you need to avoid all animal products, you can create a complete protein with rice and beans, or you can eat nuts and grains. In any case, the idea is to avoid eating pure junk food, as this will have a negative effect on your performance and ability to last long. If you can’t cut it out completely, throw in some ‘normal’ food where possible.
Big meals during the marathon will make you tired, so instead spread out your food intake over the course of the 48 hours. Prepare half-portions in advance, and eat them every 4 hours or so, that way you stay well energized without knocking yourself out every time you eat. That adds up to 12 small meals over the 48 hours for those keeping count.
Make sure you have water handy as well. This is something you should do all the time, and not just for marathons. If you don’t mind your water at room temperature, stock up your room with a gallon of water in addition to whatever drinks you also drink (sodas, juice, etc). Drink one glass of water every hour or two in addition to your normal drinks. Try to aim for at least half a gallon a day. It is much easier to remember your water if you don’t have to go to the kitchen for it. Drinking water can also help keep you alert and awake longer. Mini-fridges are a plus for this situation as well, making both your water and soda cold and easy to reach.
If you have to have your fluids icy, use your break once an hour to stretch your legs by going to the kitchen, filling your water cup and getting your fresh soda/energy drink. And after doing more intense activity at your 4 hour break grab some real food to eat (sandwich, pre-prepared pasta, etc). To balance gaming habits and healthier habits, try to balance every soda with a glass of water (2 glasses if it is an energy drink) and every snack of junk food with more balanced meals. This is not the optimal way to live, but it is much better than nothing. Small meals every four hours and drinking adequate water will also help stay awake and alert during your marathon.
Be careful of extremes. Starch (pasta, bread, and rice) is good for long term energy, but eating a big bowl of plain pasta will make you tired immediately, and its boring. Eating a large portion of food will make you tired period. Try something like half a sandwich with both meat and veggies, a handful of strawberries and a handful of chips for a mini meal. Cover a moderate portion of pasta with your favorite sauce with some cooked vegetables on the side, both of which can be prepared the day before. Dinsmore et al (2010) found that supplying working professionals (physicians) with small meals spaced 2 hours apart consisting of healthy options (70% carbohydrates, 15%/15% protein/fat) helped keep the individual’s blood glucose stable and increased their reaction times. I think this shows application to gamers, as they also spend long hours where they need acute mental functioning to be maintained throughout. [reference: Dinsmore, K., Ghali, W. A., Lemaire, J. B., Lewin, A. M., Roberts, D., & Wallace, J. E. (2010). Physician nutrition and cognition during work hours: effect of a nutrition based intervention. BMC Health Services Research 10, p 241. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-241.]
Some sodium is required, and it makes food taste good, but too much of it will make you thirsty; avoid it, or just drink lots of water with salty foods. (Be wary of high-sodium drinks, which can leave you thirstier than before. Gatorade is not worth it unless you are running a marathon.) Sugars are good for a burst of energy, but when that burst wears off you need to have eaten real food or you’ll have a sugar crash; don’t rely on just sugars to get you through the night. Ideally, you’re looking to balance protein, starch (long-term), complex sugars (medium-term) and sugar (short-term burst) intake throughout the session to keep you awake and alert. Relying too heavily on any one source will cause issues. A normal balance of fat/protein/carbohydrate is 15-25% each of fat and protein, leaving 50-70% for carbohydrates (sugars and starches). You don’t need to get it perfect just keep in mind that starving or over eating will cause a decline in your mental acuity and make your gaming marathon harder.
Foods that will actually help you for the marathon without fighting against your body:
- Sandwiches, wraps, or hoagies from the supermarket, try for some with both meat and veggies, cut up into smaller portions. If you are making it your self go light on the mayo, use something like mustard for flavor.
- Frozen Dinners, especially ones low in sodium (you’ll be getting enough of that from sodas and energy drinks) and lower in fat.
- Leftovers portioned out for small meals
- Protein Bars, Meal Bars, FiberOne, etc.
- Grilled Burgers/Chicken
- Protein Shakes (Casein), meal replacement shakes
- Homemade Pizza, thin crust, less calories, and still great cold in the fridge. Cook the day before to save time and money, and pretend to be healthy.
- Proportion your chips so you don’t eat the whole bag in one go. (use sandwich baggies)
- Mixed Nuts (Low or no salt to reduce sodium)
- Fruits! Choose easy to eat fruits that are not messy like bananas, apples, strawberries, avoid messy fruits like mango, peaches, etc. They taste great, give you a bit of energy, and you can feel proud that you broke your chip/pizza diet!
- Water, refrigerate a gallon overnight
- Try for sugar free sodas/drinks if you can stomach it
- Rockstar Zero Carb is a good example and tastes decent
- Sprite and other clear sodas usually aren’t as bad tasting 0 calories too
There are many types of food that can be brought to your desk at the start of your 24-48 hour marathon so that you can grab a snack without interrupting your play. From the list above some items are protein/energy/meal bars, chips, drinks/water, mixed nuts, and fruits. Most of these items you can portion out to sandwich baggies or other containers to help prevent you from chowing through your stash in 6 hours. One or two handfuls (depending on how big your hands are) is a good start for one serving for your marathon setting. When it comes time for a snack all you have to do is grab one or two items and you are set. Also, small periodic snacks can help you stay awake as you enter your sleepy mode without the added benefit of caffeine. On the same note, beware of eating large amounts of foods because of the sedative effect (plus its not like you are burning 1000 calories an hour). Keep paper towels or napkins with a stash like this so that your keyboard/mouse doesn’t get gunked up with salt, grease, or fruit.
-What are great ways of improving finger dexterity? Particular muscle enhancing vitamins?
Proper hand position is the number one way to prevent hand strain. When typing, from left pinky to right pinky, the fingers on your left hand should be on A, S, D, and F; the fingers on your right hand should be on J, K, L, ; . The thumbs should be on spacebar. The hands should be parallel to the keyboard – don’t let your wrists fall. If you can’t keep your arms up, then it’s a good time to rest. Alternatively, some use gel wristpads for support.
*Hand exercise section – reference what golfers and bowlers do.* Some bowlers put their fingers in a potato to rejuvenate them. (Thumb opposition, finger adduction, tendon glide, etc.)
- Place your palm flat on a table. Raise and lower your fingers one by one.
- Crumple a piece of newspaper with one hand. Squeeze then relax.
- Spread and separate your fingers apart. Then close them together.
- Make an “O” using your thumb with each finger one at a time.
- Using a pen, bend the end joint of your finger, keeping the base and middle joints straight.
- Bring your fingertips to the upper palm of your hand, keeping the base joints (knuckles) straight.
- Bring your thumb as far across your palm as possible. Then bring your thumb as far away as possible.
- Individually bring each finger to your palm.
Dexterity aside, there is some research supporting simple methods of increasing your reaction time and cognitive abilities (at least mildly) through 200 mg of caffeine every 6 hours or so, and also by keeping a stable blood sugar level. As mentioned in the food section, one study of physicians and their eating habits found that small meals placed about 2 hours apart during a 12 hour shift helped them maintain mental acuity and improved their reaction times over their normal eating habits (Dinsmore et al, 2010). They had normal nutritional food provided (like fruits, sandwiches and other “normal” foods) to them at regular 2 hour intervals, with also plenty of water. Gamers, like physicians often can be distracted by their focus on a task and skip meals or eat large portions all at once leading to a spiky blood sugar. This is one of the causative factors in reduced concentration and lower reaction times that is fixed by small meals evenly placed apart. It’s not often you can make yourself better by eating!
-Posture, importance of how you sit at your desk to not wreck your arms and eyes. mice and keyboards that are ideal for long sessions
Sitting at the computer correctly is always important, but even more so when you are going to be there for a very extended session. The last thing you want is to call it quits because you sat funny. For the basics, keep your feet flat on the floor, sit up straight with your lower back/hips as far back as you can go, make sure your monitor is straight ahead and mouse/keyboard is in easy reach. For more in depth details see this
Correct posture when using a mouse is a lot like playing a piano; the mouse should be low enough relative to your shoulders that your wrist does not touch your desk, and your wrist shouldn’t be bent at funny angles. The carpal tunnel in the human hand is under the most stress when you rest your wrist on a solid surface, and it is strained when the wrist is bent even a tiny amount. Make sure to elevate your wrist/arm while you play, or at the very least, use a gel cushion to relieve some of the pressure.
If your hands are in pain after a long session, be sensible and take a short break. Your guild may miss you during those 20 minutes, but they’ll miss you a lot more if you injure your hand and can’t play for weeks. Most importantly, just listen to your body. You know if you’re stressed out.
Every 20 minutes, step away from the monitor and look at something 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds. Office workers and truckers alike know this as the 20/20/20 rule. Also, this may be overly obvious, but remember to blink, sometimes even force yourself to blink. One of the main causes of eye strain is from staring at a single point for too long without blinking enough. If your eyes get considerably dry, consider using eyedrops.
*Earache section – referencing what musicians do.* Keep the volume low – the ear not only acclimates to current sound levels, it may overcompensate to an increasing amount over time, leading to increased pressure to your ears. Pay attention to the levels of Bass in particular; DJs often find that they lose hearing in the lower ranges over time, which should indicate how stressful it is for your ears.
-Lighting in the room, how it affects your marathon
…is just as important as background lighting. Staring at a normal computer screen for 24+ hours is going to make your eyes hurt. Try using a program like f.lux that changes the light on your monitors to be more natural as it gets dark and less glaring. Also try to keep your room well lit in order to keep your eyes from hurting too much. Another method for combating eye pain and keeping your eyes intact is to hold your eyes shut for five minutes every 30-45 minutes. This will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
Keeping your room well lit also helps keep you awake longer. As your environment gets darker your body begins to produce Melatonin, which then signals to your body that you are sleepy (http://altmedicine.about.com/od/melatonin/a/melatonin.htm). You will naturally make Melatonin as the night hits but a well lit room will help counteract this to some degree.
-Ambient noises, music, etc. Does it affect you 24+ hours in?
As time wears on and you start to get sick of energy drinks, music can be used as an alternative to help keep you going. Setup a playlist of music you like that gets you pumped up to help you fight through the fatigue. Sometimes the best ambient noise is a supportive guildmate!
-the power of naps, what does this mean?
When the body sleeps, it restores energy lost while the body was active. Even a cat nap a couple times a day for an hour will keep your longevity with gaming going. It’s better to be well rested and play the game than to play for a long period and then be out for a long time because of sleep deprivation.
-How often should one get up and stretch and what are the best methods?
- Once every hour take a short break
- At this break do some light stretching, and calisthenics. Walk around a little bit. Take the pile of Coke cans to the recycle bin and take the trash out. Keep it simple, but do not deny your arms and legs of the blood they so richly deserve.
- Once every 4 hours take a longer break to really get the blood flowing
- standing up to walk around the room is generally not enough. Stretching, walking stairs, running in place, digging a hole, or other physical labor helps keep all of the muscles that get tight while sitting in a chair stretched and in use.
-Does room temperature make a difference?
Health and Bodily effects to Temperature:
The human body will generally maintain itself at around 98.6 degrees fahrenheit. Times when the body temperature surpasses this is when either the body is sick or the environment around the body is so hot that the body can no longer cope with the extreme temperatures. As your body heat increases, more blood is being sent closer to the skin and also sweat production increases, leaving you to become dehydrated quicker than you would normally. In a condition where your body heat gain exceeds your body’s heat loss is when your body temperature begins to rise. It is when your body temperature rises is when heat illness starts to set in.
To avoid any excessive heat exposure try to put on an air conditioner on approximately 76 degrees for optimal room temperature. If no air conditioner is available then try opening a window and a fan for air circulation as a substitute. In some cases it helps to close the blinds/shades from windows where the sun is primarily shining through to reduce the room’s temperature but is optimal with steady air flow in combination.
If your condition is too cold then try wearing a sweater, thick pants like jeans or sweatpants, and possibly two pairs of socks. If your hands and head are exposed, then try wearing touchless gloves and a hat that does not expose your ears or ear muffs. In a cold environment try to keep all clothing dry and if any clothing is wet or damp it is recommended to replace immediately as exposure over time will only cause more harm.
When the air around you is too hot or cold, your body has to adjust its internal temperature, and that expends energy. If you can keep your environment at a comfortable temperature, you’re putting off fatigue by that much more.
Sources For Health and Bodily Temperature-
Sleep is important, especially for gamers. You can get more hours of playtime in during the day by taking short naps. The decrease in physical energy (from avoiding deep sleep) won’t affect you as much because you spend most of your time in front of the screen anyway. The downtime from having to take naps throughout the day is minimal, less than the length of a MOBA or RTS match even. The benefits of getting a (good) 30 minute nap during the day can keep you kicking (and gaming) for many more hours before you have to sleep again. For a normal person, naps should be used in combination with a regular sleeping cycle (7~8 hours of sleep at night on a regular basis). Naps will provide a mental rejuvenation (what you need to interact with people and play video games) and a false (but nice) sense of generic energy. (there isn’t much physical restoration that actually occurs during a short nap) Aside from biphasic sleep, most long-term polyphasic sleep is an unreasonable option for the majority of the population. With that said, some techniques used by polyphasic sleepers can help get you through your 48-hour run.
The idea is to lie down, sleep for 20-30 minutes, and then wake up immediately. Done properly, you enter REM sleep almost immediately, sleep for the full cycle, and wake up just as your body would transition into deeper sleep. You gain a mental boost, and can continue playing with minimal grogginess.
The US Army recommends to soldiers in stressful conditions that while naps can be used as a short term substitute, the goal is still 8 hours of sleep in a day. You probably won’t be getting that during your marathon, so make sure to sleep a full night when you’re done.