New research suggests sleeping less than eight hours a night is associated with a more than 30 percent injury risk among teen athletes.
Investigators asked middle and high school athletes (grades 7 to 12) to answer questions about the number of sports they played and the time they committed to athletics (at school and through other programs), whether they used a private coach, whether they participated in strength training, how much sleep they got on average each night, and how much they subjectively enjoyed their athletic participation.
Hours of sleep per night was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of injury, according to the study results.
In addition, the higher the grade level of the athlete, the greater the likelihood of injury — 2.3 times greater for each additional grade in school.
Gender, weeks of participating in sports per year, hours of participation per week, number of sports, strength training, private coaching and subjective assessments of “having fun in sports” were not significantly associated with injury.
“While other studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect cognitive skills and fine motor skills, nobody has really looked at this subject in terms of the adolescent athletic population,” said study author Matthew Milewski, M.D.
“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 Milewski.
Instead, “what we found is that the two most important facts were hours of sleep and grade in school.”
Researchers believe injury risk increases as a student ages because older athletes are bigger, faster and stronger.
Milewski and colleagues presented an abstract of the study at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics