Ben Seagraves, PT, DPT and Director of Sports Medicine at MJP reviewed a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics looked at 112 athletes at a junior high and high school in Los Angeles and looked at that relationship.
The researchers surveyed student-athletes on several behaviors—sleep hours, hours spent practicing sport within the school or with private coaches and club teams, strength training, etc., then linked the results to 21 months of retrospective injury data. Of all the factors they looked at, sleep hours were the strongest predictor of injuries—stronger than the number of practice hours! The second-best predictor of injury was the athlete’s grade in school. The older they got, the more likely they were to be injured.
“Now, we can’t draw overly specific conclusions about why lack of sleep was associated with injuries from this study; after all, these were athletes in a wide variety of sports, and the injuries ranged from wrist problems to eye injuries,” Seagraves said. “Whatever the mechanism, the benefit is pretty clear. Sleep is the cheapest and least painful performance intervention.”