According to the National Sleep Foundation, most teens don’t get the sleep they need in order to function at their best. The effects of sleep deprivation are numerous, including inhibition of memory and logical faculties, inefficient management of stress, and slowed muscle and tissue growth.
For youth athletes, the effects of sleep deprivation become more dire. Because muscle and tissue growth slows down, an athlete won’t recover from injuries as quickly. The mind and body can’t deal with stress effectively because a lack of sleep encourages the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol leads to weight gain, lower immunity and lower bone density (which increases the chance of fractures). Cortisol also inhibits memory and logical faculties (such as learning, problem-solving, and focus), which can almost certainly affect an athlete’s performance during games and practices.
Getting enough sleep (or getting more sleep than necessary) will easily solve these problems. According to the National Sleep Foundation, kids ages 6 to 13 should get nine to eleven hours of sleep a night (but can get up to twelve) and teenagers ages 14 to 17 should get eight to ten hours of sleep a night (but can get up to eleven). Encouraging kids to follow a regular sleep schedule can also help.
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