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Restless days and sleepless nights: Spelling bee takes toll

Last Updated May 26, 2018 at 11:20 am EDT

FILE - In this May 26, 2017 file photo, Mitchell Robson, 14, of Danvers, Mass. reacts to correctly spelling his word during the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md. This year's super-sized bee, starting Tuesday, May 29, 2018 has three full days of spelling because Scripps allowed wild cards into the field for the first time. How the 516 competitors manage stress could play a bigger role than ever in who wins.(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON – The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a test of brain power, but it can also take a physical toll.

The spellers who spend a week competing at a convention centre outside Washington often don’t get much sleep. They don’t get exercise, either, and their meal times are erratic. All that can affect their performance.

Some former spellers say they have missed words in the finals because they were tired, hungry or otherwise not at their best physically.

Managing the stress of the week could be even more important this year because the bee is super-sized. Scripps allowed wild cards into the field for the first time, which means the bee will have three full days of spelling. There are 516 spellers in the bee.