The Importance of Sleep and Athletic Performance and Injury Rate
The literature on the effect of sleep on sports performance is very interesting. As we have noted here before, Dr. Cheri Mah has evaluated the effects of acute sleep restriction in cycling, demonstrating decreases in power, submaximal heart rate and peak heart rate during physiological assessments of cyclists. Dr. Mah then evaluated the response to extra sleep in collegiate swimmers. This study showed extra sleep over an extended period resulted in improved athletic performance, mood and lower ratings of fatigue. As athletes are always trying to find extra advantage, professional athletes and teams are in the news discussing how they have made sleep a priority as they try to optimize their performance. This includes multiple professional teams with sleep rooms even fitted with special pillows to optimize sleep.
More recently, studies have looked at sleep and injury rates. Milewski et al. (2014) showed a significant decrease in injury rate in adolescent athletes who slept more than 8 hours a day. Other researchers are looking at sleep deprivation effects on proprioception (our sense of balance) and reaction time, both factors affecting injuries and performance.
As medical providers working with athletes at all different levels, clearly we should emphasize the importance of a healthy sleep cycle for both performance and possible even preventing injury. Encourage everyone to get a great night’s sleep.
Milewski MD, et al. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes, Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, 2014
Mah CD, et al. The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players,Sleep, 2011