Sleep and Injury Mitigation/Recovery
In PartI of this two-part series on sleep hygiene and the movement system, we discussed how sleep helps solidify newly learned movement skills and even improves them, particularly in the last two hours of an eight-hour sleep.
Now, we will discuss sleep and its relationship to mitigation of injury and recovery. A 2014 study of adolescent competitive athletes demonstrated a significant higher risk of injury with chronic lack of sleep.
Additionally, evidence is demonstrating sufficient sleep to be vital not only for upcoming physical performance but for physical recovery after performance. Adequate and quality sleep in the days after a performance is linked to faster recovery from inflammation and quicker initiation of muscle repair.
Finally, Matthew Walker’s early career findings about the relationship between sleep and recovery from brain damage are continuing to be validated, with research discovering that the brain, with the help of sleep, re-organizes remaining neural connections after a stroke. When sleep is integrated into an individual’s recovery program post-neural injury, the quality of sleep is related to motor function return and movement skill re-learning.
Tips to getting our Zzzzzzzs may appear to be obvious. But in the words of motivational coach, Brendon Burchard, “Common sense is not often common practice.”
Tips to improving sleep hygiene (seriously, read Matthew Walker’s “Why We Sleep?” for deeper reasoning behind these suggestions)
1. Stick to a schedule: go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
2. Try not to exercise within 2-3 hours prior to bedtime.
3. Avoid caffeine too late in the day, avoid alcohol before bed, avoid large meals and beverages late at night.
4. Create a nighttime routine that allows you to wind down, relax, and prepare your body for sleep. This may include: music, reading, a hot bath, a cup of tea.
5. Create a dark, cool, gadget-free bedroom. Do not lie in bed awake >20-30 min if you can’t fall asleep.
6. Get at least 30 minutes of daylight per day in the morning and turn lights down at night to cue your circadian rhythm appropriately.
1. Walker M. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. New York, NY: Scribner; 2015.
2. Milewski MD et al. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes. Journal of Paediatric Orthopaedics. 2014;34(2):129-33.
3. Berger K. In multibillion-dollar business of NBA, sleep is the biggest debt. June 7, 2016. Accessed at https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/in-multi-billion-dollar-business-of-nba-sleep-is-the-biggest-debt/ .
4. Mah CD, Mah KE, Kezirian EJ, Dement WC. The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Sleep. 2011;34(7):943-50.
5. Herron K, Dijk D, Ellis J, Sanders J, Sterr AM> Sleep correlates of motor recovery in chronic stroke: a pilot study using sleep diaries and actigraphy. Journal of Sleep Research. 2008;17:103.
6. Siengsukon C, Boyd LA. Sleep enhances off-line spatial and temporal motor learning after stroke. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 2009;4(23):327-35.