NEW ORLEANS – Adolescent
athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely
to be injured than athletes who regularly slept less, according to an abstract
presented Sunday, Oct. 21, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National
Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.
For the abstract, “Lack of
Sleep is Associated with Increased Risk of Injury in Adolescent Athletes,”
researchers asked middle and high school athletes (grades 7 to 12) enrolled at
the Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, Calif., 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.
Seventy percent of the student athletes (112 out of 160 students; 54 males and
58 females; mean age 15) completed the survey, conducted in conjunction with
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Researchers then reviewed those students’
school records pertaining to reported athletic injuries.
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, MD.
“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. Instead, “what we found is that the two most important facts were
hours of sleep and grade in school.”
The advanced age risk may reflect a cumulative risk for injury after playing
three or four years at the high school level, Milewski said, and older athletes
are bigger, faster and stronger.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical
specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants,
children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.