At the Kennedy Center at Mercy, we commonly see injured young athletes for evaluation. The newly released research shows a relationship between poor sleeping habits for young people and sports injuries.
It’s recommended that middle and high school age athletes get 8-10 hours of sleep nightly – which many athletes are not getting. Frequently they try to balance after school activities like sport practices and games along with homework demands. Young patients this age are highly likely to have a cell phone and use ‘screen time’ well into the late night hours. They often charge their phones in their bedrooms, sometimes checking them in the middle of the night and disrupting their sleep.
Research shows that if middle or high school athlete sleeps LESS THAN 8 HOURS per night… they are nearly TWO TIMES AS LIKELY to get injured.
This study shows that getting a good night’s sleep – at least 8 hours – is critically important to injury prevention… which is equally, if not more important, than traditionally regarded training like physical conditioning, mental preparation and excellent nutrition and hydration.
The well-rested athlete will have fewer mental errors. A good night’s sleep improves mental accuracy and reaction time thus decreasing injury rate and providing a longer playing career.
How do parents help their young athlete disconnect from screen time and develop a good bedtime routine?
We highly recommend that parents limit all screen time 30-60 minutes before their child goes to bed. Encourage quiet, easy activities like reading, listening to music, journaling or doing crafts. Quiet activities can decrease brain stimulation and help children get to sleep. Charge phones in another part of the house away from their bedrooms. Another recommendation is to try to keep a regular sleep schedule of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. These times shouldn’t be altered by more than an hour on weekends. And avoiding caffeine after noon is also helpful.
To learn more about the connection between sleep deprivation and injuries in young athletes click on the following link. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25028798