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21-10-2012 | Sports medicine | Article

Lack of sleep increases injury risk in teenage athletes


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medwireNews: Adolescent athletes who have less than 8 hours sleep a night are more likely to be injured when participating in sport than those who sleep for longer, show study results.

The research also suggests that the risk for injury in young athletes rises with increasing age, or grade, in school.

"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, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, California, USA, in a press statement.

"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," he added.

Milewski, who presented the research at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, reported findings from a survey of 112 teenage athletes (58 girls) from a combined middle and high school in the USA who were aged 12-18 years (mean age 15 years).

The participants were asked to fill in a survey about their athletic practices and training, injury history, and the amount of sleep they got on a regular basis. Their injury records were also reviewed.

The team found that adolescents who got more sleep had a significantly reduced risk for injury. More specifically, athletes who had 8 hours sleep a night or more were 68% less likely to sustain an injury than those who had less sleep.

In addition, higher school grade was linked to a significantly greater risk for injury, in that for each additional year at school the risk for injury increased 2.3-fold.

Of note, gender, weeks of sports participation per year, hours of participation per week, number of sports participated in, strength training, having private coaching, and level of enjoyment of sport were not significantly associated with injury risk in this group.

Milewski and colleagues suggest that adolescent athletes should be advised that they may benefit from additional sleep as they get older to help prevent sporting injuries.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Helen Albert, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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