Research Shows Student Athletes Need More Sleep

By Dr. Anuj Chandra, Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders

(November 23, 2020) — A new study shows that young athletes are not getting enough sleep, and it is hurting their performance. Inadequate sleep hurts young athletes’ reaction time, strength, speed, cognitive learning, and decision-making. It also causes poor placement in competitions and puts them at increased risk for injury.

Dr. Mark Riederer reviewed the latest research on how sleep affects young athletes’ performance. He is with C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Here are additional highlights from his study:
• Young athletes get less sleep than non-athletes, and female athletes sleep less than male athletes.
• Insomnia may increase the risk of burnout and dropping out of a sport due to injury.
• After competitions, levels of the stress hormone cortisol are increased, leading to poor sleep quality.
• Inadequate sleep may increase the risk of stress fractures.

It’s never easy to get high school students to prioritize sleep, but this study gives parents great ammunition for pushing their kids to get enough sleep.

Parents, you don’t have to fall back on “because I said so” or “because it’s good for you” — which have never worked very well for anything. Instead, tell your student-athletes that they can improve their performance by getting enough sleep.

Generally, adolescents age 13 to 18 need 8 to 10 hours of sleep, and children age 6 to 12 need 9 to 12 hours.

Read the study published in Current Sports Medicine Reports here.

Anuj Chandra, M.D., D.ABSM, founded the Advanced Center for Sleep Medicine in 2005, an independent sleep medicine clinic equipped with the latest sleep testing equipment and with locations in and around Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since 2005, Dr. Chandra has served on the international teaching faculty of the National Sleep Medicine Course, a physician education initiative to bring cutting edge to sleep medicine training to India. For more on Dr. Chandra and the Advanced Center for Sleep Medicine, visit www.sleepforhealth.org.

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