As if parents of teens don’t have enough to worry about, add to the list concern over their kids getting enough sleep to avoid injury. It turns out, adolescent athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly slept less, according to an abstract presented Oct. 21, 2012, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.
Researchers asked middle and high school athletes (grades 7 to 12) enrolled at the Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, California, a number of questions about their athletic activities, the amount of sleep they got, and “enjoyment” of their sport. Researchers then reviewed those students' school records pertaining to reported athletic injuries.
Hours of sleep per night was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of injury, according to the study results. In addition, the higher the grade level of the athlete, the greater the likelihood of injury – 2.3 times greater for each additional grade in school. Other factors like gender, number of sports, and strength training were not significantly associated with injury.
"While other studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect cognitive skills and fine motor skills, nobody has really looked at this subject in terms of the adolescent athletic population," said study author Matthew Milewski, MD.
"When we started this study, we thought the amount of sports played, year-round play, and increased specialization in sports would be much more important for injury risk," said Dr. Milewski. Instead, "what we found is that the two most important facts were hours of sleep and grade in school."
So, after you tell your teen to do their homework and clean their room, insist they get to bed early, too. It’s for their own good.