Nov 16, 2018Sleep it Off
Athletic trainers already know that quality sleep can enhance recovery and performance. But according to the results of a new study, it can also increase post-concussion recovery rates in young athletes.
The study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and reported on by ScienceDaily, found a clear link between good sleep quality and quicker recovery from concussion. Its abstract noted that athletes who get enough sleep are more likely to recover from a concussion within two weeks, while those who don’t can potentially take longer than 30 days for symptoms to subside.
“Sleep is not only important for physical, mental, and cognitive well-being, but also seems to play a pivotal role in the recovery of the brain following a sport-related concussion,” said Jane S. Chung, MD, FAAP, Sports Medicine Physician at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas and the primary author of the abstract.
To conduct the study, researchers at the hospital collected and analyzed data from four outpatient clinics in northern Texas specializing in concussions, sampling 356 athletes under the age of 19 who had been diagnosed with a sport-related concussion. Those athletes were then asked to complete a survey with questions about their sleeping habits and quality. A score of five or fewer meant that the athlete’s sleep quality was considered “good,” while those who scored six or more likely experienced a “poor” quality of sleep.
The results indicated that “athletes with poor sleep quality reported two (2) times greater symptom severity at their initial clinic visit and three (3) times greater symptom severity at their 3-month follow-up compared to those with good sleep quality.” In addition, female athletes were more prone to experiencing a poor night’s sleep following a concussion when compared to the males.
Dr. Chung believes the importance of high quality shut-eye is often not a priority for young athletes and urges parents to change this.
“Parents can take small steps to help improve their child’s sleep quality by establishing a regular sleep schedule, avoiding electronics at least one hour prior to bedtime, and encouraging them to get at least 8-10 hours of sleep each night,” she said.
Chung and her fellow authors are also encouraging health care professionals to make a conversation about the importance of good sleep habits following a concussion a top priority.
“Pediatricians and health care providers involved in the care of young athletes should educate and emphasize the importance of good sleep quality and sleep hygiene for optimal overall health, performance, and recovery,” she said.