Is sleep important?
Updated: Apr 13
Reducing injury and increasing performance in athletes.
If there was an easy to implement strategy that could reduce injury risk and increase performance with athletes, why wouldn’t it be shouted from the rooftops?
More important than the latest sports tech or expensive supplement… Sleep!
Did you know young athletes who get less than 8 hours of sleep each night, increase their injury risk by 1.7x, compared to those who get 8 or more hours sleep (1).
Another study (2) showed that 19% of young elite athletes were not getting the recommended amount of sleep during weeknights.
Getting good sleep is vital for maintaining a healthy weight, a healthy immune system, memory and cognition as well as making you feel focused and refreshed. It has also been shown to help you learn new skills faster, help you recover faster and speed up your reaction times (3).
In terms of direct increases in sporting performance, basketball players who increased their sleep to 8.5 hours improved in speed tests (5%), free throw and 3 point shooting percentages (9%) (4). Tennis players serving accuracy also improved by 5% (5).
How much sleep should you be getting?
7-9 hours is touted as the recommended amount for most adults, however athletes may require 9 or more depending on how strenuous their training schedules are.
Top tips to improve sleep hygiene and improve sleep quality (3)
Try to keep the same sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up around the same time each day, even on weekends. Our bodies work on a rhythm.
Have a bedtime routine such as a bath before bed, or reading a book to help your body prepare for sleep.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes. All of these have been shown to decrease sleep length or quality, especially if consumed after lunch.
If possible, avoid high intensity exercise late at night. Exercise can temporarily increase cortisol which may impair sleep.
Sleep in a quiet, cool, dark room.
Avoid screens like tv’s, phones and computers 1 hour before bed. The artificial bright light may disrupt your body's natural circadian rhythm.
Naps may be helpful to fill in for missed sleep,
Our clinicians may screen for sleep concerns during the initial consultation to determine if it is a factor in your recovery.
1. Milewski MD, Skaggs DL, Bishop GA, Pace JL, Ibrahim DA, Wren TA, et al. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes. Journal of pediatric orthopedics. 2014 Mar;34(2):129-33. PubMed PMID: 25028798. Epub 2014/07/17. Eng.
2. Von Rosen, Philip & Frohm, Anna & Kottorp, Anders & Fridén, Cecilia & Heijne, Annette. (2016). Too little sleep and an unhealthy diet could increase the risk of sustaining a new injury in adolescent elite athletes. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. 27. 10.1111/sms.12735.
3. Vitale, K. C., Owens, R., Hopkins, S. R., & Malhotra, A. (2019). Sleep Hygiene for Optimizing Recovery in Athletes: Review and Recommendations. International journal of sports medicine, 40(8), 535–543. https://doi.org/10.1055/a-0905-3103
4. Simpson NS, Gibbs EL, Matheson GO. Optimizing sleep to maximize performance: implications and recommendations for elite athletes. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. 2016 Jul 1. PubMed PMID: 27367265. Epub 2016/07/02. Eng.
5. Sufrinko A, Pearce K, Elbin RJ, Covassin T, Johnson E, Collins M, et al. The effect of preinjury sleep difficulties on neurocognitive impairment and symptoms after sport-related concussion. The American journal of sports medicine. 2015 Apr;43(4):830-8. PubMed PMID: 25649087. Epub 2015/02/05. eng.