Introduction: Sleep duration and quality have a critical role in cognitive and athletic performances. A relationship was demonstrated between sleep deprivation, reduced performance and elevated injury risk. The recommended sleep duration for teenagers is at least 9 hours a day but most sleep less.
Aim: To estimate sleep duration among elite adolescent athletes at the Academy for Sport Excellence at the Wingate Institute, by quantifying the changes after joining the academy and the relation to school performances and the usage of medical services.
Methods: Data from medical records, including sleep screening questionnaires and a number of the athletes' medical appointments were analyzed.
Results: Athletes reported that sleep duration was less than recommended before joining the academy. After joining the academy the average sleep duration decreased (7.37 vs 7.7 hours, P = 0.05) and daytime sleepiness was elevated (13/24 v 11/24 Epworth-Sleepiness-Scale (ESS), P = 0.002). Correlations between changes in sleep duration and changes in school achievements before and after joining the academy were demonstrated (P = 0.027). No correlation was found between sleep duration at the academy and usage of medical services.
Conclusions: Elite adolescent athletes do not sleep enough and are tired during the day. Reduction in sleep duration and elevation in sleepiness were observed with the transition to practice, study and life at the Academy for Sport Excellence.
Discussion: In accordance with previous studies, our findings showed elite young athletes are in a state of continuous sleep deprivation that interferes with their school achievements. Further research is needed to evaluate the importance of sleep duration and quality in performance for the health of young athletes.