A good night's sleep goes a long way in making sure teen athletes stay injury-free on the field, court or rink.
That's according to a new study presented Sunday at a conference for the American Academy of Pediatrics, which found that athletes who get at least eight hours of sleep every night are 68 percent less likely to get injured in their sport.
Researchers looked at whether several other factors affected injury proneness – grade level, gender, how often an athlete played, the number of a sports a teen played, strength training and, of course, whether athletes had fun. Other than sleep, the only other factor that played a role was grade level: Athletes were 2.3 times more likely to get hurt for each additional grade in school.
That was surprising, said the study's author, who explained in a statement that he'd previously believed that the number of sports played and the frequency of play would have played a bigger role than grade level or sleep.
It's easy enough to understand why sleep would play a role in increased injury – the less alert you are, the less likely you'll be on top of your game when it comes to protecting yourself. As for grade level, that could be a reflection of the fact that as athletes get bigger, faster and stronger, the severity of their injuries follow suit.
This isn't a reason to quit sports, of course – in the Los Angeles Unified School District, a fairly recent analysis found that participation in high school sports was linked to a better grade point average.
It is a reason, though, to adjust your schedule so that you're getting eight hours of shut-eye a night – whether or not you're the athletic type.