Posts Tagged ‘lack of sleep’

Teen Sports Injuries Linked to Lack of Sleep

The night before her most recent junior varsity basketball game, my daughter Sarah, age 15, was worried.

She had tickets with a friend to see the boy-band One Direction at Madison Square Garden, and was afraid she would be up very late.

“I’ll probably be too tired to play. I hope I don’t fall down and hurt myself during the game,” she lamented.

And she was right to worry.

Older high school athletes who don’t get a good night’s sleep are the most prone to sports injuries.

On the other hand, adolescent athletes who sleep 8 or more hours each night are 68% less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly sleep less, according to new research presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference recently.

Other studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect cognitive skills and fine motor skills, but “nobody has really looked at this subject in terms of the adolescent athletic population,” said lead author Matthew Milewski, MD of the Children’s Orthopaedic Center, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA.

“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.”

He suggests that older athletes may accumulate a higher injury risk after playing 3 or 4 years at the high school level.

In addition, older athletes are bigger, faster and stronger, and therefore more likely to suffer a sports injury.

In the study, the researchers asked middle and high school athletes from grades 7 to 12 enrolled at the Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, CA, to answer questions about the number of sports they played and the time they committed to athletics, both 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.

Some 70% 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 of Los Angeles.

Researchers then reviewed those students’ school records pertaining to reported athletic injuries.

The study showed that hours of sleep per night was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of injury.

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.

Injury was not significantly associated with 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.”

The researchers concluded “adolescents may benefit from additional sleep as they get older to help reduce the risk of injury during sports.”

As it turns out, Sarah got to bed at 11 p.m. – earlier than usual – after the concert (which she said was “cool”).

The next day, she played nearly all of the basketball game, scoring 6 of the Brooklyn Friends School team’s 24 points, in a losing, but injury-free, effort.