Young Professional Footballers are at Risk of Developing Sleep Apnea

Head injuries tend to be one the most common injuries for football players. However recent studies have found another common disorder associated with the sport. Sleep apnea, a serious breathing disorder, has been found to be quite common in professional football players, and especially in linemen.

Sleep apnea is mainly common in older men, but a study with college-age linemen revealed that the cause of this health problem in football players may begin much earlier. Whilst theses results are not completely conclusive, another comparison study with competitive athletes of the same age also found a correlation between physical conditioning specific to football linemen and this particular health threat.

The study, "Examination of risk for sleep disordered breathing among college Football Players" is forthcoming in the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. The authors are exercise physiologists Bailey Beck and Joseph S. Marino, sleep psychologists Hannah Peach and Jane Gaultney, and biologist Timothy Renzi, all from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The results of this study could indicate a further higher risk of sleep apnea for professional football players in later life, which will most likely need a full assessment of the potential damage of college training, particularly for linemen who quit conditioning after college when they choose not continue moving forward within this sporting profession.

UNC Charlotte sleep psychologist Jane Gaultney commented on these results, she said “there have been two recorded studies based around sleep apnea and professional football players. One was for retired football players and one for current, these results showed us that the current players were at greater risk for sleep-disorder breathing, “In light of this discovery, we wanted to se

e if this disorder was prevalent at college level. This study was created to target the candidates and try to detect any of the early signals of this condition.”  Co-author Joseph Marino noted, "the population of pro football players that was at greatest risk were the linemen. That was why we targeted the college linemen for purpose of th

is study."To compare this study against another category of athlete, the researchers chose to study track athletes, more specifically runners. They were chosen due to the fact that they have a lean body type

because of the physical demands of their sport, which contrasts with the heftier build of a lineman, but both athletes have similar levels of physical exertion, training and athleticism.