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Sleep for Youth Athletes

Is it actually important to get 8 hours of sleep a night? Yes! Adequate sleep also leads to fewer injuries and enhanced athletic performance. Read more here if we still haven't convinced you that sleep is important!

“Adolescent athletes who slept on average fewer than 8 hours per night were 1.7 times more likely to have had an injury compared with athletes who slept for 8 hours or more.”1

Let Youth Sleep

A range of factors go into optimizing a youth athlete's performance, but have you considered sleep? When a youth is not receiving adequate sleep, their risk of injury and illness increases, and their level of performance decreases. Studies show that youth who get adequate sleep cut their chances of getting injured by more than half. One study that looked at soccer players found that getting less than adequate sleep caused decreased running endurance, slower sprint times, and reduced soccer kicking skills.2

Sleep Recommendations

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and many other scientific institutions agree that children 6-12 years old should be getting 9-12 hours of sleep, and children 13-18 years old should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep each night.1

Key Points

● Adequate sleep reduces the risk of illness, sports-related injuries, and chronic disease development by allowing the body to rest and recover, especially after intense physical activity.
● Adequate sleep helps maintain normal homeostatic function, including the immune system, respiratory and cardiovascular function, and body temperature regulation.
● Early morning or later evening practices should be avoided as they can cut into a youth’s sleep time and interfere with circadian rhythms. Interference with circadian rhythm can cause difficulties with falling asleep and waking up, leading to fewer hours of sleep overall.

How to Take Action

● Establish a sleep routine of going to bed roughly at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning, regardless of whether it is a weekend or holiday.
● Avoid time on electronics in the evening one hour before bed (i.e., phones, TV, tablets, laptops). Keep electronics off and out of the youth’s room at night.
● Only use the bed for sleep. Avoid using the bed for things like doing homework, relaxing, spending time on a phone, reading, etc.

For a comprehensive scientific summary on this topic, refer to Copenhaver et al. (2017).

References (Original Research)
1. Paruthi et al. (2016), J Clin Sleep Med, 12(6), 785-786.
2. Pallesen et al. (2017), Percept Mot Skills, 124(4), 812-829.