Kid Athletes Need Sleep, Too

Sleeping enough at night helps athletes keep from injury

(RxWiki News) Hit the snooze button, kids. It's important for the hard working athletes, too. The extra Z's may help them from getting hurt on the field or the court.

The more hours young athletes sleep at night, the likelihood of having an injury goes down, a study presented at a conference has found.

These researchers said sleep is a key factor in many aspects of health. 

"Get eight hours of sleep every night."

The study, led by Matthew Milewski, MD, assistant professor in the department of orthopedics at the University of Connecticut, surveyed 112 middle and high school athletes about the amount of time they spent in athletics and how much sleep they got at night.

The kids were between seventh and twelfth grades at the Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, Calif. More than half were female and averaged 15-years-old.

Researchers also asked the kids whether they had a private coach, did strength training, how much they enjoyed their sports and the number of sports they played.

Researchers then looked at the number of reported athletic injuries in each child's school record.

They found that those kid athletes who sleep at least eight hours a night were 68 percent less likely to get injured during play than the more sleep deprived adolescent athletes.

Athletes in higher grade levels were also more likely to get injured. With each grade up, injury chances increased 2.3 times.

Dr. Milewski said in a press release that the increasing risk among kids in higher grades might be because the athletes are stronger, bigger and faster, and the risk may be cumulative after playing the sport for several years.

The hours and weeks of participation per year, number of sports participated in, strength training, and whether the kids had a private coach were not significantly associated with injury.

Their gender and whether they had fun in their sports were also not significantly associated.

"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," Dr. Milewski said in a press release.

William Kohler, MD, medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute in Spring Hill, Fl., and dailyRx Contributing Expert, says that previous studies have shown lack of sleep and its cognitive effects on fine motor skills.

"This shows there’s an increased risk of accidents, which is additional important information, adding to the cumulating evidence that inadequate quality and quantity of sleep has potential adverse consequences," he said.

The study was presented October 21 at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans. Research presented at a conference should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Review Date: 
October 22, 2012