Health Day News — Not getting enough sleep may put adolescent athletes at greater risk for sustaining sports injuries, researchers found.
Student athletes who slept fewer than eight hours per night were significanlty more likely to experience sports-related injuries during a 21-month period (relative risk=1.7; 95% CI: 1.0-3.0; P=0.04), Matthew D. Milewski, MD, of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, reported at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference.
Several factors are thought to contribute to injury risk in teen athletes, including increased participation and specialization, strength training and decreased time off, but insufficient sleep may also play a role. About 68.9% of high school students do not get adequate amounts of sleep (at least eight hours per night), CDC data indicate.
To assess whether inadequate sleep affects sports injuries in adolescent athletes, Milewski and colleagues evaluated 112 student athletesvia online survey. Study participants attended grades seven through 12 at Harvard-Westlake School, a single combined middle/high school in the greater Los Angeles area. The average student age was 15 years, but ranged from 12 to 18 years; 58 females and 54 males were included.
The survey consisted of questions regarding training practices, amount of sports and time committed to sports per week and per year; utilization of strength training or a private coach; quantity of sleep obtained on an average night; and subjective enjoyment of sport participation.
A total of 76.7% participants reported sleeping less than 8 hours each night. During the 21-month study period, 57% of the athletes sustained injuries that were recorded by athletic trainers at the school; 38% of all athletes suffered multiple injuries.
After multivariate adjustment, getting insufficient sleep was the strongest independent predictor of injury. A higher grade in school was also predictive (RR=1.4; 95% CI: 1.2-1.6; P<0.001).
“The key finding to our study was that kids who slept less than eight hours per night and were in a higher grade in school (meaning older kids) were more likely to have sustained an injury. These two factors were the best independent predictors based on multivariate analysis,” Milewski said.
“Student athletes were 1.7 times more likely to get an injury if they had slept less than eight hours per night. We feel that adolescent athletes may benefit from additional sleep as they get older to help minimize sports injuries. Injury prevention programs and initiatives should include sleep education,” he added.