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The Association Between Poor Sleep and the Incidence of Sport and Physical Training-Related Injuries in Adult Athletic Populations: A Systematic Review

Abstract

Background

The importance of achieving an adequate amount of sleep to optimize health and athletic performance is well recognized. Yet, a systematic evidence compilation of the risk for sport-related injury in adult athletic populations due to poor sleep does not exist.

Objective

To examine the association between poor sleep and sport and physical training-related injuries in adult athletic populations.

Data Sources

Electronic databases were searched using keywords relevant to sleep quantity and quality, and musculoskeletal injury and sport-related concussion (SRC).

Eligibility Criteria for Selecting Studies

Studies were included in this systematic review if they were comprised of adult athletic populations, reported measures of sleep quantity or quality, followed participants prospectively for injury, and reported an association between sleep and incidence of sport or physical training-related injury.

Study Appraisal

The methodological quality of each study was assessed using the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale for Cohort Studies.

Results

From our review of 12 prospective cohort studies, we found limited evidence supporting an association between poor sleep and injury in adult athletic populations. Specifically, there is (a) insufficient evidence supporting the associations between poor sleep and increased risk of injury in specific groups of athletic adults, including professional or elite athletes, collegiate athletes, elite or collegiate dancers, and endurance sport athletes; and (b) limited evidence of an association between poor sleep and increased risk of SRC in collegiate athletes.

Conclusions

The current evidence does not support poor sleep as an independent risk factor for increased risk of sport or physical training-related injuries in adult athletic populations. Given the methodological heterogeneity and limitations across previous studies, more prospective studies are required to determine the association between sleep and injury in this population.

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Correspondence to Devon A. Dobrosielski.

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Devon Dobrosielski, Lisa Sweeney and Peter Lisman declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.

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DD—concept and planning of work described; acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data; drafting and critical revision of the manuscript; approved final submitted version. LS—acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data; drafting and critical revision of the manuscript; approved final submitted version. PL—concept and planning of work described; acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data; drafting and critical revision of the manuscript; approved final submitted version.

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Dobrosielski, D.A., Sweeney, L. & Lisman, P.J. The Association Between Poor Sleep and the Incidence of Sport and Physical Training-Related Injuries in Adult Athletic Populations: A Systematic Review. Sports Med 51, 777–793 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-020-01416-3

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