Is it Bad to Play Chess before Bed?

Yes, playing chess before bed can be bad, particularly if it involves offline games on a physical board, as it can consume a significant amount of time without much awareness and potentially lead to sleep deprivation.

However, if it’s online chess like blitz or bullets and played in moderation, it may not necessarily be bad for sleep, as long as one avoids overplaying and maintains a healthy sleep routine.

What if you are unable to sleep and decide to play chess instead?

In such cases, playing chess can actually be beneficial.

If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep after attempting to do so for an extended period, rather than engaging in mindless social media scrolling or watching meaningless reels, chess provides a mentally stimulating and focused activity that redirects your thoughts and promotes relaxation.

Engaging in a strategic game like chess helps shift your attention away from anxieties or racing thoughts, allowing your mind to focus on the challenges presented by the game.

This redirection of mental energy potentially aids in transitioning into a more restful state, making chess a preferable alternative to passive screen time before bed.

Studies on the Effects of Chess Before Bedtime:

Gaming before bedtime has been a topic of debate among sleep experts for a long time.

While no well-known studies directly address chess’s influence on sleep, personal experiences can offer insights.

Some argue that chess stimulates the mind and may hinder sleep, while others believe it can be a relaxing and mentally engaging activity.

The truth, however, appears to lie somewhere in between, as playing chess before bed can be considered a double-edged sword.

Offline Chess can Deprive you from Sleep:

When playing chess offline, such as on a physical board, it is essential to consider the time commitment involved.

It can get lengthy, often stretching over several hours especially when you are not using a timer.

Engaging in such a time consuming match before bed could lead to a significant portion of your sleep time being consumed, leaving you sleep-deprived.

This issue becomes particularly problematic when you have early morning commitments, such as classes or work.

Incomplete sleep can result in fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and reduced cognitive performance the following day.

Therefore, it is generally advisable to avoid playing lengthy offline chess games right before bedtime to ensure a restful night’s sleep.

Online Chess Before Bedtime: Pros and Cons:

Online chess, with its various time controls like blitz or bullet, presents a different scenario.

Unlike offline chess, online games tend to have shorter time limits, making it more suitable for pre-bedtime play.

Quick-paced matches can be mentally stimulating without drastically impeding your sleep routine.

However, it is crucial to exercise moderation and self-discipline when playing online chess before bed.

The convenience of online platforms can tempt players to engage in prolonged sessions, extending well into the night.

For instance, agreeing to a single game with a friend may unintentionally evolve into a series of ten or more games. This tendency can disrupt your sleep schedule and adversely affect the quality of your rest.

Strategies for a Healthy Balance:

To maintain a healthy balance between chess enjoyment and quality sleep, consider implementing the following strategies:

  1. Set a Time Limit: Before starting a chess session, establish a predetermined time limit for playing. This ensures that you allocate sufficient time for restorative sleep.
  2. Avoid Late-Night Competitions: If possible, refrain from engaging in competitive chess matches close to bedtime. The adrenaline rush and mental stimulation from intense games can interfere with your ability to relax and fall asleep.
  3. Practice Mindful Gaming: Be mindful of your playing habits and avoid excessive online chess sessions that can encroach upon your sleep time. Set clear boundaries and adhere to them, ensuring you prioritize your rest.
  4. Establish a Pre-Bed Routine: Create a calming pre-sleep routine that includes activities such as reading, listening to helpful podcasts, or meditating. Engaging in these activities can help transition your mind from the intense focus of chess to a state of relaxation conducive to sleep.


The impact of playing chess before bed depends on the mode of play and individual habits. While offline chess games tend to consume significant time and can disrupt sleep, online chess can be enjoyed before bed with proper moderation.

By setting time limits, avoiding late-night competitions, practicing mindful gaming, and establishing a pre-bed routine, you can strike a balance between chess and restful sleep.

Don’t forget that prioritizing your sleep is crucial for overall well-being and optimal cognitive performance.

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