Sleep, Nutrition, and Injury Risk in Adolescent Athletes: A Narrative Review

Lorcán Mason, James Connolly, Lydia E. Devenney, Karl Lacey, Jim O’Donovan, Rónán Doherty

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Abstract

This narrative review explores the impact of sleep and nutrition on injury risk in adolescent athletes. Sleep is viewed as essential to the recuperation process and is distinguished as an active participant in recovery through its involvement in growth, repair, regeneration, and immunity. Furthermore, the literature has shown that the sleep of athletes impacts elements of athletic performance including both physical and cognitive performance, recovery, injury risk, and mental well-being. For sleep to have a restorative effect on the body, it must meet an individual’s sleep needs whilst also lasting for an adequate duration and being of adequate quality, which is age-dependent. The literature has suggested that athletes have increased sleep needs compared to those of the general population and thus the standard recommendations may not be sufficient for athletic populations. Therefore, a more individualised approach accounting for overall sleep health may be more appropriate for addressing sleep needs in individuals including athletes. The literature has demonstrated that adolescent athletes achieve, on average, ~6.3 h of sleep, demonstrating a discrepancy between sleep recommendations (8–10 h) and actual sleep achieved. Sleep–wake cycles undergo development during adolescence whereby adaptation occurs in sleep regulation during this phase. These adaptations increase sleep pressure tolerance and are driven by the maturation of physiological, psychological, and cognitive functioning along with delays in circadian rhythmicity, thus creating an environment for inadequate sleep during adolescence. As such, the adolescent period is a phase of rapid growth and maturation that presents multiple challenges to both sleep and nutrition; consequently, this places a significant burden on an adolescent athletes’ ability to recover, thus increasing the likelihood of injury. Therefore, this article aims to provide a comprehensive review of the available literature on the importance of sleep and nutrition interactions in injury risk in adolescent athletes. Furthermore, it provides foundations for informing further investigations exploring the relation of sleep and nutrition interactions to recovery during adolescence.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5101
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalNutrients
Volume15
Issue number24
Early online date13 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished online - 13 Dec 2023

Keywords

  • adolescent
  • athletes
  • sleep
  • nutrition
  • injury risk

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