Sleep and Injuries

Sleep and Injuries
Posted on 09/18/2020
Sleep and Injuries: Reduced sleep can lead to increased injury rates during athletic competitions

Piper Reasoner, BS, LAT, ATC
Head Athletic Trainer, Legend High School

Sleep. We all know it’s importance in our health and well-being, but do you actually know how deep that truth runs when it comes to our adolescent athletes? Numerous studies have proven that sleep is vital to athletic success, but studies have taken it even further to prove that lack of sleep is truly hurting our athletes.

According to two studies mentioned in MVP Parent, “elite adolescent athletes who got at least eight hours of sleep per night were 61% less likely to be injured than their less-rested counterparts. A 2014 study in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics reached much of the same conclusion. Data from the orthopedic center at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles showed that the likelihood of injury over 21 months was 65% in athletes who reported less than eight hours of sleep per night, and 31% in athletes who reported sleeping eight or more hours per night.

Even more striking from the Minnesota Sleep Society is the data below that shows that four times more injuries happen in players that get only six hours of sleep per night compared to those getting nine hours of sleep or more—ouch!

Likelihood of Injury Based on Hours of Sleep Per Night

Fatigue Science explains that sleep has a profound effect on accuracy, speed, reaction times, decision making, and even playing careers and therefore earning potential for athletes.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded in a study that “Athletes were often unable to achieve sleep recommendations during training or competition periods. Sleep was impaired the night of competition compared with previous nights. Early morning training, increases in training load, travel departure times, jet lag and altitude can impair athletes’ sleep.”

Finally, a study by Miller, N.L., et al.; concluded that changing and adjusting adolescent sleep patterns greatly improves mental health and general performance in the training environment.

So now what? What can we do as parents, coaches, and teachers to help our student-athletes reduce the risk of injury? The University of Michigan gives us these sleep tips:
  • Ban electronics from the bedroom, Charge phones elsewhere

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule, Discourage afternoon naps

  • Stick to sleep-friendly bedtime routines

  • Limit caffeine

  • Talk to your doctor about the use of melatonin

  • Realize sleep isn’t instant

Now, go get some sleep!

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