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If you're an athlete, you need to recover. Your body doesn't actually grow and adapt while you train - to a large extent that happens when you rest. Your nervous system needs sleep to repair itself. So does your body.
But the chances are that you don't realize it, your coaches don't realize it and you're not getting it.
If that's the case, you're not alone. In America, most young people aren't getting enough sleep.In fact, most people aren't getting enough sleep, period.
Mark Rosekind, president of Alertness Solutions and a former NASA scientist, points out that 'There are lab studies that show that if you're an eight-hour sleeper and you get six hours of sleep, that two-hour difference can impact your performance so that it equates to how you would perform if you had a 0.05 blood-alcohol level.'
So sleep deprivation is serious.
How Bad Is The Problem?
The average American is so sleep deprived that the Center For Disease Control's pronouncement on the subject is called: 'Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic.' To repeat: that's not some blogger with a sleepytime tea or a relaxation course to sell, it's the CDC.
How sleep deprived do we have to be before the CDC calls it an epidemic? Well, try these facts on for size.
In the last month, over 30% of Americans fell asleep during the day without realizing it - until they woke up.
Doesn't sound that serious, huh?
The CDC says sleep deprivation is 'linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.' It goes on to warn that sleep deprivation is also associated with mortality and morbidity, addiction and mental health problems, diabetes and cancer.
But I Get My 8 hours, What's The Problem?
If you're an adult and you get your 8 hours that's great. It's unlikely - nearly 30% of US adults get less than 6 hours' sleep a night - but it's great. But if you're a teenager it's not enough.
The National Institute of Health says children need about 10 hours' sleep a night, adults 7-8 and teenagers 9-10.
And they're not getting it, or anything like it.
The average high schooler - not college kids, high school kids, max age 18 - isn't getting 8 hours a night on the average school night.
And here's the kicker: the average high school kid isn't an athlete.
'Not only do athletes need sleep to improve on their athletic skills,' says Sara Madnick, PhD, a sleep researcher at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, 'but the restoration that occurs within muscles during deep sleep is important. If you don't get enough sleep it can be detrimental to your performance.'
If you're an athlete you need more sleep. Your nervous system takes a beating, as well as your body, and you need to sleep to recover.
But it's not just sleep.