Sleep Cycle & Teen Athletes

The sleep cycle changes during puberty. And this means that the time of day makes a dramatic difference in the athletic performance of teens.

That's the conclusion of Brown University psychiatry professor Mary A. Carskadon, PhD, director of the chronobiology and sleep research lab at E.P. Bradley Hospital in Providence, R.I. In a review of sleep research on teens, she notes that with puberty come big changes in the human sleep cycle.

Some experts say teens need more sleep than younger children need. Carskadon, an expert in sleep and teen development, says this isn't so. At puberty, she says, teens' nightly need for sleep actually drops a bit. But that's generally a moot point, as few teens come even close to getting enough sleep.

"Young people live in a nearly constant state of chronic insufficient sleep," Carskadon writes in the April issue of Clinics in Sports Medicine.