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#1 Posted by Gunner (4406 posts) -

Lately I've been having a lot of trouble unwinding after work and falling asleep at a decent hour. I need something to slow my racing mind and calm me down so i can actually fall asleep at a decent hour.

My usual gaming taste is RPGs or strategy games but i find playing those games before bed ends with me awake at 4am with my mind even more restless than when i started.

So basically im looking for any suggestions for a nice calm game with short sessions so i can try and unwind and relax after my usual 12-14 hour shifts.

I put my mental health in your hands!

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#2 Edited by Fram (1738 posts) -

I like to unwind with some Rocket League. The matches are short but can be tense/stressful, so I put the game on mute and listen to a podcast while I play. I find it a great way to zone out.

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#3 Edited by Gunner (4406 posts) -

@fram: Ive been wanting to try out rocket league but I've never considered it to be a good zoning out game. I love fifa though so i might have to try that suggestion out.

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#4 Edited by OMGFather (909 posts) -

Maybe not short session ideal but the Truck Simulator games are mega relaxing. Put on the radio/your own music/podcasts while driving for double effect.

Aside from that, Binding of Isaac Rebirth is always my go-to casual pick-up-and-play game. Sometimes runs can get long but you can always quit and resume another night. Perhaps not so casual in some places but I don't play it to perfection.

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#5 Edited by liquiddragon (2739 posts) -

Monument Valley is great for this. Simple, pretty, and zen. Wear headphones, get in the zone, go through a level or 2 before shut eye. The only thing is, it's so short, I'll only last you maybe a week tops.

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#6 Posted by Justin258 (15243 posts) -

I've been playing Golden Sun: The Lost Age right before going to sleep. I'll lay down in bed, turn it on, do a few battles or watch a cutscene or something, save, turn off the lamp, and go to sleep.

Sometimes I'll play one level of Super Mario 3D Land.

If you're looking for a longer wind-down, I don't know what to suggest if RPG's don't do it for you. The game I've been playing at night is Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, which at first seems great (it plays itself!) until you start to look at Gambits every other battle (hm, I wonder if I set it up this way) or you start thinking about where you want to go with each character's License Board or whatever and then suddenly it's way later than you thought it was.

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#7 Posted by Fram (1738 posts) -

@gunner: There's a learning curve starting out for sure. Even after playing on and off for months, I still get regularly schooled by people who have insane control and aerial skills. But I'm comfortable enough with where I'm at that I can turn off part of my brain and just enjoy the ebb and flow of a match.

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#8 Posted by Savage (743 posts) -

If I were in such a situation, I would look for a game that pairs music with semi-repetitive gameplay. I think that would offer a good balance of interactivity that's demanding enough to hold my focus while predictable enough to let me zone out. The music element is to help replace the jumble of stress and worries that has built up in my mind after a busy day with something orderly, soothing, and pleasant, so that I can let go and allow my mind to rest and wander aimlessly. Rhythm games that aren't too fast or intense would be a natural fit. osu! and Audiosurf offer enough user control that you can dial in whatever experience you're looking for. Other types of games, especially those that support custom soundtracks, could also work, like certain puzzle games, racing games, or grindy action RPGs. Trackmania comes to mind as a good option.

I would definitely not play any kind of competitive multiplayer game, especially a team-based game where I'm reliant on random teammates to succeed. That would be the exact opposite of what I'd be looking for. I would want a game that offers a reliable, harmonious, laid-back experience where I'm comfortably in control--just what my busy day was missing.

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#9 Posted by xanadu (1758 posts) -

Phoenix Wright games are pretty good for that.

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#10 Edited by FacelessVixen (2255 posts) -

My answer depends on what genre I'm in the mood for, but currently, it's DOOM.

RPGs are probably the worst option since those can lead to all night binging. ...Thanks Dark Souls.

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#11 Edited by Blu3V3nom07 (4481 posts) -

Lately, its been Rime.

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#12 Posted by BoccKob (471 posts) -

Diablo-like games always put me right to sleep in under an hour.

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#13 Posted by GuitarGod (134 posts) -

Any laid back game

Fire watch





I heard FFXV is actually a really chill games to play despite its shortcomings

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#14 Posted by sfw44 (262 posts) -

Alcohol and ESO puts me to sleep.

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#15 Edited by BoboBones (176 posts) -

I use to play Civ as my end of the day wind down game. Never again.

These are what have helped me sleep.

Hohokum, (My personal favorite)



MLB The Show,


and most Donkey Kong, Kirby, Mario, and Zelda titles.

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#16 Posted by gkhan (944 posts) -

Tetris for me, but that's a really bad habit, you get way too riled up. Lumines is a better choice, way more chill.

The best games for this are chill walking simulators, but if you play every night, you're gonna run out of them pretty quickly.

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#17 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (7775 posts) -

I play several matches of Overwatch before bed most nights. Not sure everyone would find that relaxing, but for me I love it and it's a great way to unwind at the end of the day.

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#19 Posted by TobbRobb (6430 posts) -

If you really want to fall asleep better and more consistently you should put a hard limit on screen usage about an hour or so before going to sleep. No games, no youtube no nothing. Go do the dishes or something.

Though that shit's hard yo. I can't keep a decent sleep schedule to save my life. When I've limited my PC time it's definitely been a lot better, but I don't keep it up.

Try some cell phone games maybe? There's a ton of games designed to be played in shorter bursts so you don't stay up all night, and generally they won't demand much mechanical skill or brain power. (Obviously with exceptions).

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#20 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (6354 posts) -

I'll second--or third, or whatever--Hohokum. I can't play that game without feeling like I want to go to sleep. Journey and Abzu are also great choices.

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#21 Posted by SteveVice (268 posts) -

I find Binding of Isaac on the Switch to be a good way to relax, also Zelda.

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#22 Edited by JohnyMyko (1628 posts) -

@liquiddragon said:

Monument Valley is great for this. Simple, pretty, and zen. Wear headphones, get in the zone, go through a level or 2 before shut eye. The only thing is, it's so short, I'll only last you maybe a week tops.

I second this, really nice game. And Monument Valley 2 came out recently. Still haven't finished it, so I don't know if it's bigger than the first one, but it's just as neat.

If you're into puzzle games and like to play on a phone or tablet, I also recommend klocki (available on Steam as well). The cool thing about it is that there's no time limit and no three-star system, so you could play as slow or as fast as you want without worrying about time or number of moves. Some of the puzzles are slightly challenging but none of them are way too hard or frustrating to make you want to stop playing it. This game is currently my default one for when I want to zone out.

Love You to Bitsis also another nice and relaxing mobile game. It's a bit like old school point and click games where you have to search an area to find the right items to unlock something and keep progressing. The puzzles are fairly simple and the game overall has some nice charm. You control a space explorer traveling from planet to planet trying to find the lost pieces from his robot girlfriend. Each level is a planet with a different theme or mechanic and the more you progress the story forward, you also uncover the story from the past about how the couple met and their relationship grew.

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#23 Posted by FrodoBaggins (1563 posts) -

100% defiantly NOT Overwtach. Holy fucking shit.

Probably Stardew Valley.

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#24 Edited by FlashFlood_29 (4095 posts) -

The Lego games seem like they'd be pretty good to wind down with. Not too challenging, repetitive, most don't feature voice acting so it's typically mostly music. And they're stress free.

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#25 Posted by BBAlpert (2793 posts) -

@gunner: Are you looking for games to play to unwind BEFORE going to bed or (mobile/portable) games you can play IN bed?

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#26 Posted by mellotronrules (2375 posts) -

i like puzzle games for this- although i imagine your mileage may vary. i just need something that's not twitch-based and problems to solve that are abstracted out.

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#27 Posted by DanishingAct (368 posts) -

Stardew valley is my go to, but really, just not looking at a screen for a half an hour before bed helps a ton.

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#28 Edited by TopCat88 (340 posts) -

@tobbrobb said:

If you really want to fall asleep better and more consistently you should put a hard limit on screen usage about an hour or so before going to sleep

@danishingact said:

just not looking at a screen for a half an hour before bed helps a ton.

This is the best advice. I would suggest you read a book in bed. That's my go to relax/get to sleep method. It'll take your mind off your work, get you in bed and away from the pc/console and give your eyes a break.

However, If you want a video game suggestion, the Zen mode in Bejewled 3 is great. It's an old game, but I've had a shortcut to it on my desktop for years. The zen mode is great for relaxing.

Sweet dreams, duder.

Edit: I just remembered Mini Metro. A super relaxing puzzle game (If you play on endless mode). Available on mobile, (and pc I think)

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#29 Posted by Baal_Sagoth (1599 posts) -

I find Everything incredibly relaxing. Just be a tree and listen to Alan Watts for a while. Or fly with the birds.

Not spending yet more time staring at a screen is much better advice though. Maybe read a book or listen to a podcast or chill music.

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#30 Edited by cloudymusic (2057 posts) -

Picross on my 3DS while sitting in bed has been amazing for this purpose for me. It's very relaxing to do while listening to music or a podcast, and I'm always ready to sleep after a handful of puzzles.

Other puzzle games to a lesser extent also work, like Pushmo.

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#31 Posted by Punched (173 posts) -

If you're having trouble sleeping, staring at a screen, no matter what you're playing, is a bad idea. The light from the screen tricks your brain into think it's still daytime. Read a book or something.

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#32 Posted by OpusOfTheMagnum (647 posts) -

I don’t want to be an ass, but none of them. Go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes or take a jog. Games are stimulating and staring at screens makes it harder to fall asleep. Excercise and fresh air will help you decompress and quiet your mind. I would recommend against any media, including books from personal experience. No music, no tv, no games. Just get out and move a bit.

Before I moved I used to walk about 40 minutes pretty quickly with a load, with a massive and very steep hill at the end of my walk to get home from work. Worked wonders. Had a lot of fantastic sunsets to watch over the water and by the time The Hill came up I didn’t have much reason to think, just climb and sweat.

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#33 Posted by Lanechanger (1664 posts) -

I don't know but I know a game that you really shouldn't play right before bed is PUBG!

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#34 Posted by Gunner (4406 posts) -

@opusofthemagnum: Games to unwind before bed/right after work (i work long shifts). I find trying to fall asleep right after work to be futile as my mind is still running and thinking about work.

I need something that would distract and unwind my brain in preparation for bed time.

@punched: I might actually start taking that suggestion as I've been looking for a way to get back into shape. The only problem is my job leaves me very little time to play games to begin with so i usually try to utilize the time i have after work to actually play a few games. Being a life long PC enthusiast is so hard. #firstworldproblems

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#35 Posted by Tylerrools (14 posts) -

I used Linelight for this purpose earlier this year after peter brown mentioned it on a bombcast. Chill piano music + fairly simple gameplay = sleepy time. $10 on steam. Monument valley is a good choice as well.

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#36 Posted by sharpened (12 posts) -

I love playing any Picross before bed. Something about just plain old puzzles with no plot or extra gameplay to worry about is super relaxing to me. And if it hurts my brain too much, that also kinda helps to get me in a sleepy mindset by thinking that if a particular puzzle is too hard, it's because I'm tired and I'll be able to solve it in the morning.

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#37 Posted by FrostyRyan (2693 posts) -

dark souls, the ornstein and smough fight

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#38 Edited by NTM (11017 posts) -

Sorry to say, but games generally are the total opposite. I recommend laying down and watching a movie or a TV show you like, maybe setting the timer on your TV to sleep after ninety minutes. Video games actually make me stay up, but if I'm stressed to some degree and thinking about my obligations for what comes in the next day, I won't be able to play a game because I'm too concerned with what comes tomorrow sometimes. Games for me are about getting into those worlds and losing myself, I can't do that if I'm thinking about what's going on in reality since I don't feel I can lose sight. I was just thinking about making a thread (but I won't) about whether your (as in the people on here) job gets in the way of their passion for games and other things, or whether their job is their passion. To me, my job is easy/challenging enough and I don't absolutely hate it, but it's not my passion to do it, so for me, it does get in the way of what I love to do, and it's kind of depressing. I know, my problem, but still.

Edit - Also, I second the idea of working out for a short session unless you're too fatigued after working. Jumping jacks ;). TV's artificial light has been said to keep you awake. Some, however, like to fall asleep to the sound of what's going on, on the TV. I actually can't do that myself, so I'll turn it off when I know I'm tired and about to fall asleep.

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#39 Posted by ripelivejam (12670 posts) -

the first hour of kingdom hearts on repeat.

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#40 Posted by Oculin (10 posts) -

As others have said, Picross is a pretty great before-bed game. I also think Visual Novels can be pretty good, too. I also think any kind of action gaem that's kind of a mindless grind, like Phanstasy Star Portable/Zero. Just do a run, fail to get your drop and go to bed.

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#41 Posted by yourbrain (21 posts) -

Throwing my two cents in...

Walking, reading, meditating are great - but it depends on how truly wired/stressed you are and how your brain works. I've had periods in my life where something like walking or even yoga just left my mind too clear and focused on whatever was keeping me stressed and made my anxiety worse.

So if games are your personal key to real distraction, relaxation, and eventual sleep go for it. I second the Abzu and Stardew Valley suggestions (though more than once I stayed up too late with Stardew...just one more day). Also Child of Light is an older game, but chill for me. May I also suggest clickers or Candy Crush/variants? They are truly mindless, but do raise the feel good chemicals.

Good Luck!

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#42 Edited by Rebel_Scum (1380 posts) -

Stop and smell the flower type puzzle games are good before bed. The Witness, Fez, Fantastic Dizzy etc.

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#43 Posted by mylifeforAiur (3561 posts) -

Darkest Dungeon.

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#44 Posted by Pessh (2527 posts) -

+1 for Stardew

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#45 Posted by inevpatoria (7259 posts) -

Breath of the Wild has been the game for me. I love just hanging out in that world.

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#46 Posted by spamfromthecan (129 posts) -

I've been playing Levels+ on Switch before bed the couple weeks.

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#47 Posted by Lego_My_Eggo (1291 posts) -

For me personally playing games makes it harder to go to sleep, and will actually make my mind more active and keep me up far longer then i otherwise would. I usually stop playing games an hour/hour and a half before i intend to actually sleep, because i have found that i normally stay up for an hour after i have stopped playing games no matter what. I just toss something along the lines of a documentary or educational show on the TV, that allows me to focus on the show and keep my mind from racing and wandering to other random thoughts.

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#48 Posted by ominousbedroom (560 posts) -

Echoing all comments saying to limit your screen time. I understand what it's like to have limited game time but put your health first. Lit screens are mentally stimulating (period) and will lower the quality of your sleep. Do you like drawing or reading game-related stuff?

You mention wanting to get healthier. Have you given a thought to dance/fitness games? It's not an original thought but it's one of the few ways to be physical and game at the same time.

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#49 Posted by Yoshisaur (80 posts) -

Highly recommend avoiding games before bed if you can help it. Some people can do it, but I'm like you, if I play something right before bed I get restless.

Try to avoid eating too late as well, or exercising right before bed.

Probably the best thing to do would be to read, but I know that's not everyone's cup of tea.

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#50 Posted by Octopusrocketmark (148 posts) -

Chill out and hunt some guardians in BOTW.