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Teen Athletes Sleep Better Than Couch Potatoes

THURSDAY Aug. 20, 2009 -- Athletic teens sleep better than their couch-potato peers and have fewer problems concentrating at school, a new study finds.

Researchers in Switzerland asked 434 adolescents with an average age of 17 to keep a log of their sleep and daytime habits for one week. The 258 student athletes, part of the "Swiss Olympic Classes," exercised about 17.5 hours a week. The 176 more sedentary teens exercised for about 4.5 hours a week.

The teen athletes reported waking fewer times during the night, higher energy levels during the day and a greater ability to concentrate than their less-active peers.

The study, by researchers at the Basel Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel, Switzerland, appears online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

"This study shows that, in adolescents, being an athlete is predictive of high sleep quality, low daytime tiredness and high concentration during the day," said Dr. David Rapoport, director of the sleep medicine program at the New York University School of Medicine. "While it is entirely possible that the good sleep and the favorable daytime profile is caused by exercise, the data do not allow us to conclude this directly."

Rapoport said that there may be reasons other than the increased exercise helping athletes sleep better than others.

"There are other factors, such as having a favorable psychological profile or predisposition, and there may be something about athletes other than exercise, such as self-discipline, which leads to their ability to sleep well," he said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more on teens and sleep.

Posted: August 2009


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