When thinking about recovery, sometimes it’s easy to lose the forest for the trees…

By: Samy Shash

Confession time: all too often, when I encounter a new patient with a musculoskeletal injury, seemingly out of nowhere, I’ve felt inclined to look at specific details of their movement, strength of their muscles, mobility of their joints, or any specific mechanical factor to help better understand their pain. Over the years, I’ve come to realize more and more that a multitude of lifestyle factors can make a huge difference in terms of recovery as well as injury risk.

Sleep quality tends to be one of the most overlooked lifestyle factors affecting recovery – especially in athletes or those who live active lifestyles! There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, but here are a few interesting facts about sleep that may change the way you think about recovery from pain or injury, as well as athletic performance.

Sleeping for more than 7 hours a night lowers your risk of injury

  • Research shows that athletes who reported injuries, cardiorespiratory issues, and psychological stressors slept less than 7 hours a night
  • Teenage athletes who sleep less than 8 hours a night have been shown in the research to have a 1.7x higher risk of injury than those who slept more than 8 hours a night

Sleep quality even affects bone density

  • Research shows that women who slept less than 5 hours a night on average had lower bone mineral density compared to those who slept more than 7 hours a night

Sleep can improve overall performance

  • It can be reasonable to assume that playing sloppy, or being off your A-game can impair form, limit focus and potentially place you at risk for injury. Sleeping for over 8 hours a night has been shown in research to improve sports performance as well – demonstrating improvements in basketball players’ speed and shooting accuracy

Does it sound like any of these sleep issues apply to you? Stay tuned for Part 2, which will discuss my top 5 tips to help you improve your sleep hygiene and maximize your recovery!

Samy Shash

Samy Shash


Samy is a registered physiotherapist at Synergy, working at both the east and west end locations. He treats a wide variety of conditions including athletic injuries, aches and pains from working at home, and weekend warriors. He holds a Master of Science in Physiotherapy from McMaster University and a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from York University. If you have any specific questions for Samy he can be reached at samy@synergysportsmedicine.com, and to book online click HERE for the east end, or HERE for the west end.

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