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Importance of Sleep on Athletic Performance and Injury Risk

Adequate sleep is an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is considered to be critical to human physiological and cognitive function. Often times people place sleep on the back burner in order to keep up with the demands of our fast-paced society. According to the American Sleep Association (ASA), sleep is essential to the health of the brain, heart, and immune system. Adequate sleep (>8 hours/night) offers several benefits from improving mood and concentration and maximizing athletic performance to improving immune function and decreasing risk of heart disease and stroke.

Athletes are faced with several obstacles that can result in decreased sleep, such as training schedules, travel, academic demands, and stress.  Sufficient sleep (>8 hours/night) should be included among the essential components (balanced diet, proper training, etc.) of athletic performance. Sleep allows the body and mind to prepare for and recover from training and competition.

A recent study published in the Sports Medicine Journal in November 2019, studied the effects of adequate sleep on the athletic performance among young athletes ages 14 – 25 years. Here is what they found.

Athletes who slept <8 hours per night and had poor quality of sleep:

  1.   Increased risk of obtaining a musculoskeletal injury.
  2.   Negatively affects athletic performance, causing delayed reaction times and less accurate cognition.
  3.   Resulted in an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), mimicking symptoms of overtraining and increase pro-inflammatory cytokines causing immune system dysfunction.

 Athletes who slept >8 hours per night:

  1.   Improved athletic performance, reaction times, and competitive success.
  2.   Decreased likelihood of injury.

A good night of sleep is essential to our health and well-being with significant effects on physical development, cognitive performance, emotional regulation, athletic performance, and quality of life.  Injuries can even be reduced with adequate sleep!

If you have any questions regarding ways to decrease your risk for injury, give Omaha Physical Therapy Institute a call today!

Ashlie Eckmann, PT, DPT



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