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Lack of Sleep Is Associated with Increased Risk of Injury In Adolescent Athletes

Sunday, October 21, 2012: 9:52 AM
Melrose (Hilton Riverside)
Matthew D. Milewski, MD1, James L. Pace, MD1, David A. Ibrahim, BA1, Greg Bishop, MS2, Audrius Barzdukas, M.Ed.2 and David L. Skaggs, MD1, (1)Children's Orthopaedic Center, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, (2)Athletics, The Institute for Scholastic Sport Science and Medicine, Harvard-Westlake School, Studio City, CA

Lack of sleep is associated with increased risk of injury in adolescent athletes


Early identification of factors predisposing young athletes to injury may help to decrease the incidence of these injuries.  Possible factors include increased number of sports participated in, increased training, decreased time off from sports, and lack of sleep.   The purpose of this study was to examine risk factors for the development of adolescent sports injuries.


At a single greater metropolitan private combined middle and high school (grades 7-12), 160 athletes were consented for participation in an online survey of training practices combined with a retrospective review of their school's athletic trainers' records of reported injuries.  The survey consisted of questions related to the number of sports and time committed to athletic participation both at their school and on their own during the past year, whether they utilized a private coach, participated in strength training, how much sleep they got on average per night, and how much they subjectively enjoyed their athletic participation.  Online surveys were completed by 112 high school athletes (70% completion rate) and only their injury records were reviewed. 


Of the 112 adolescent athletes, there were 54 males and 58 females who had a mean age of 15 years (SD = 1.46; range 12-18).  Hours of sleep per night were significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of injury (p = 0.008).  Increasing grade in school was significantly associated with increased likelihood of injury (p < 0.001).  Gender, weeks of participation in sports per year, hours of participation per week, number of sports, strength training, private coaching, and subjective assessments of “having fun in sports” were not significantly associated with injury history.  Multivariate analysis showed grade in school and hours of sleep obtained per night to be independent predictors of injury.  Athletes who slept greater than or equal to 8 hours each night were 68% less likely to be injured (p = 0.04).  For each additional grade in school, the risk of injury increased by 2.3 times (p < 0.0001). 


Lack of sleep and increasing grade in school appear to be associated with injury risk in an adolescent athletic population.  Adolescents may benefit from additional sleep as they get older to help reduce the risk of injury during sports.