The Connection Between Sleep and Injuries While Training or Working Out

The Connection Between Sleep and Injuries While Training or Working Out

Published - 4th Feb

Sleep is the strongest predictor of injuries among athletes —with athletes who sleep less hours during the night being more susceptible to sports injuries. The more hours you sleep, the lower the risk of contracting an injury since resting is extremely important for the body to recover and recuperate. Without adequate sleep, the body is largely unable to cope with the physical and mental demands of training.

What Happens When You Exercise

When you work out, new blood vessels grow and your heart rate increases so that more oxygen can be circulated throughout your body. Since exercising results in faster and heavier breathing, your body may need more oxygen to supplement your workout. To do this, the muscles of the ribcage help out the diaphragm by producing up to 15 times more oxygen when exercising.

The increased blood flow has also an effect on the brain, making you alert and focused during and after training. Moreover, your muscles will contract during exercise and use up the energy that the body has stored from foods that you eat. Exercise also stimulates bone formation and stimulates perspiration. With all this being said, every organ in your body works when you exercise. Because of this fact, it is essential that the body rests to recover after a workout.

Benefits of Sleep After Training

Sleep is critical after working out because it gives the body the chance to recover and build up energy. Exercise depletes the body’s glycogen levels, which need to be replenished to avoid muscle fatigue. More importantly, sleep allows muscle growth, repair, and healing. It also promotes lean muscle to develop and solidify while the rest of your body is at rest. 

Without adequate and good quality of sleep, physical and cognitive function are affected. Good sleep also motivates people to stick to their training plans according to a research published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine. Adequate rest provides more energy, drive, and concentration while working out the next day helping sustain the momentum of physical activities and preventing accidents from happening.

Lack of Sleep Leads to Injuries and Accidents

Adequate sleep duration is critical in daytime alertness and could prevent injuries according to Tan et al. Tiredness and lack of shut-eye slow down reaction time and affect alertness. Poor levels of attentiveness can result to accidents at the gym such tripping on free weights or falling off a treadmill. When you don’t get enough rest, your memory fails to consolidate information and makes it hard to remember something. You might forget for a moment how a certain fitness machine works with its different settings, landing you in trouble. Because getting enough rest is critical to your well-being and safety while you work out, squeezing a quick power nap in your car for just 20 minutes can drastically improve concentration, memory, and alertness at the gym.

The Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine at the University of Stanford is at the forefront of researches connecting sleep and athletic performance. Studies conducted with groups of student-athletes revealed improvements across a variety of sports when sleep quantity was increased. Evidence also pointed out that inadequate sleep increases the risk of injury among athletes. In fact, athletes who slept at least 8 hours a night were 68% less likely to injure themselves while playing compared to their peers who slept less than 8 hours nightly.

Getting adequate sleep is important for your physical and mental health, and as research has shown, sleep is also key in reducing the risk for injury when working out.

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