Thanks to a new study, teenage athletes may have a legitimate excuse to press the snooze button.

At a conference of pediatricians, researchers from Children's Hospital Los Angeles presented a study that found adolescent athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly slept less.

For the study, researchers surveyed 112 middle and high school athletes at Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, Calif. They found that hours of sleep per night was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of injury. The study had 54 males and 58 females.

"While other studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect cognitive skills and fine motor skills," said author Dr. Mattew Milewski, "nobody has really looked at this subject in terms of the adolescent athletic population."

The researchers also discovered a link between age and injury. They found that the likelihood of injury increased 2.3 times for each additional grade.

"When we started this study, we thought the amount of sports played, year-round play, and increased specialization in sports would be much more important for injury risk," said Dr. Milewski. "What we found is that the two most important facts were hours of sleep and grade in school."

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