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The Importance of Sleep for Young Athletes

Guest Post by Rest Right Mattress
For the family that has one or more kids who actively play sports, getting everything done throughout the day can seem overwhelming. School, practice, games, other extracurricular activities and homework can take up so much time that bedtime gets pushed later. Keeping kids active is great for their health but it is also very important that kids get sufficient sleep as well. According to WebMD, by the time kids are in high school up to 75% report they aren’t getting the recommended amount each night.
There are many benefits of getting sufficient sleep, and it is especially important for kids. Benefits include improved memory and increased energy. Studies have concluded that kids who play sports and get enough sleep are less likely to be injured. Speed improvements have also been identified as a benefit of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation states growth hormones are released as you sleep which leads to muscle development and the increase in blood flow to muscles while sleeping aids in muscle recovery. All these benefits offer a child or teen athlete an advantage but most importantly, they support healthy development.
Children and adolescents have differing sleep recommendations. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists their recommendations by age here, though active kids may require more sleep than the average. While you might not be able to find extra time in your day, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your child gets as much quality sleep as possible.
As a sports parent, the first thing you can do might come easy for you. Chances are you are already good at maintaining a schedule throughout your day, week, month and possibly even year so maintaining a scheduled bedtime will be the first thing that you can do. Having a scheduled bedtime will ensure that your child gets a set amount of sleep each night, provided they can get to sleep within minutes of laying down which will become easier as the body adapts to the schedule.
Another step that you can take to help your child get adequate sleep is to remove electronics from the equation at least a half hour or so before their set bedtime and limit caffeine. Light emitted from the screens can interrupt signals that it is time to sleep because sleep is a naturally regulated function of the body that is affected by light and dark. Light tells the brain that it is time to wake and dark tells it that it is time to sleep.
Provide your child a bedroom environment conducive to sleep. A cool, dark and quiet room is recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. This works hand in hand with removing electronics, so the room should also be television free.
If you can teach your child time management skills, it can help now and later. You already have an idea of how to manage your time in the morning, you probably can pinpoint to the minute how late you can wake up and still stay on schedule in the morning. Do the same for your evening routine. Determine what specifically needs done before bedtime and how much time that will take. Then have a steadfast rule that the evening ritual starts at a set time, sufficient to complete all tasks before the scheduled bedtime. If your child or teenager can develop good time management skills this routine can be followed allowing for the sleep your kid needs. These time management skills should help as your child becomes a teen and their circadian rhythms shift, giving them a natural inclination to stay up later. Their new bedtime might be a little later, but by incorporating their newfound skills, they can adapt and still achieve sufficient sleep.

Sufficient Sleep Has Its Benefits