Teens: 7 Essential Tips to get 8-9 Hours of Sleep and Decrease Injury Risk
Not quite able to get that elusive 8-9 hours of sleep per night?
Figure there will be catch up on the weekend, or once summer starts, or after the upcoming tournament ends?
Maybe you just don't think that sleep is that important in general safety, training and competition?
Well, if your goal is to optimize overall performance while limiting risk of injury, then wake up and take notice of the following studies on the importance of sleep:
- Colleagues from Children's Hospital of Los Angeles found that adolescent athletes who slept more than 8 hours a night were 68% less apt to be injured than peers who did not get that much sleep per night. Athletes who reached higher grade levels in school actually had higher injury risks, so the additional sleep recommendations are even more important for older adolescents versus younger adolescents.
- The USA Centers for Disease Control reports that teenagers who got 7 or fewer hours of sleep a night had a higher prevalence of risky behaviors such as not wearing bike helmets or seatbelts, driving a car after drinking or riding in a car with a driver who had been drinking, or texting while driving when compared with teenagers who got 9 hours of sleep a night.
- Check out the wonderful infographic below from fatiguescience.com that compares a well rested athlete with a tired counterpart in a visual description of how poor sleep directly leads to poor performance. The graphic also illustrates the sleep habits of several well-known athletes and gives sensible tips on how to increase the quantity and quality of your sleep.
- For those who must deal with frequent long-distance travel and the demise of regular sleep habits, there's an App for that. Researchers at the University of Michigan utilize smartphones to monitor circadian clocks and make recommendations on lighting and other tips to more rapidly adjust to new time zones with travel.
Now, even when young athletes try to get this adequate amount of sleep, It is very common to have struggles with falling asleep, especially in the junior high or early high school years. If this scenario sounds familiar, start with the following recommendations:
Use bedrooms only for sleeping and changing clothes
Eliminate or reduce electronic exposure (TV, DVD, smartphones, computers, etc) in the bedroom
- If must have electronic devices in bedroom, set to silent mode and turn upside down so screen is not visible
Try to go to sleep within 1/2 hour of the same bedtime every night, even on weekends and other days without school
Stop all electronic exposures at least one hour before bedtime
Limit caffeine use at or after dinner time
If having trouble falling asleep, turn your clock/timer around so you can't see the time
Many teenagers report awaking frequently during the night, or even more perplexing, getting the recommended 8+ hours a night, but still awakening tired or feeling fatigued during the day. In in these cases, highly recommend scheduling a medical evaluation to review sleep habits and hygiene, with focus on possible tonsil/adenoid enlargement, overtraining, uncontrolled asthma or allergies, depression/mood disorders and other illnesses that might contribute to interrupted sleep or poor sleep quality.