≡ Menu

Latest News

3 Ways Sleep Impacts Athletes’ Physical Health

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

For many of us, the holidays bring crammed schedules, long travel days, and disruption to daily routine. Changes in diet and sleep habits can have an adverse affect on anyone. For student athletes, sleep interruptions and poor quality of sleep can be especially complex, reports the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) in a recent infographic. Let’s take a closer look at three of the core areas that may be affected by not getting enough sleep.

Sleep Impacts Cognitive Performance

    • Learning & Memory: The brain uses sleep as an opportunity to filter, consolidate and integrate information taken in during the day. Lack of sleep deprives the brain of this opportunity.
    • Decision-Making: Lack of sleep impairs student athletes’ abilities to make decisions.
    • Vigilance & Alertness: We’re less likely to stay focus and maintain attention when sleep-deprived.

Sleep Impacts Physical Health

    • Healing & Recovery: The body needs rest time to repair, rebuild and grow cells.
    • Metabolism: Sleep controls insulin and glucose functioning, secretion of metabolic hormones and the way fat and muscle cells use and store energy.
    • Muscle Growth: The body needs sleep to repair muscle tissue damaged in a workout.
    • Weight Control: Researchers have found a correlation between poor quality sleep and weight gain/obesity.

Sleep Impacts Mental Health

    • Stress & Anxiety: The body’s ability to appropriately control stress and emotions depends on sleep to maintain proper function. Without sleep, the body’s capacity for processing stressful events is inhibited.
    • Mood & Depression: Several functions of sleep involve processing and regulating emotions. Depression and lack of sleep have been shown to have a correlation.

Fast Facts About Sleep Deprivation

Did you know…

    • That most college-aged student athletes experience four nights of insufficient sleep per week on average?
    • That one-third of college-aged student athletes get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night? (This rate is higher among female athletes.)
    • That sleep deprivation among college-aged student athletes is often attributed to frequent travel for competitions; uncomfortable sleeping arrangements; stress; the challenge of balancing athletics, academics and student life; and sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea?

For more information about how sleep affects student athletes, see the infographic below.

Schedule With a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor

To learn more about how you can improve your health and athletic performance, talk to a sports medicine doctor at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics. Call (713) 756-5546 or schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.