Subjective and objective sleep differ in male and female collegiate athletes


Jason R. Carter, Brett M. Gervais, Janelle L. Adomeit, Ian M. Greenlund


Sleep Health


Background/Purpose Despite the importance of sleep for athletic performance, there is a lack of normative sleep data and sex comparisons in collegiate athletes. The primary purpose of our study was to assess the prevalence of insufficient sleep in collegiate athletes, with a secondary aim to compare male and female athletes. Procedures Participants included 121 collegiate athletes (65 men and 56 women) from six team sports and three individual sports. Subjective assessments of sleep included at-home sleep diary, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), and Insomnia Severity Index (ISI). Objective assessments of sleep included three consecutive off-season weekdays of wrist actigraphy to assess total sleep time (TST) and sleep efficiency (SE). Main Findings Actigraphy revealed that 94% of student-athletes received <8 hours of sleep/night, while 61% received <7 hours/night. Subjective assessments revealed that 35% had PSQI >5, 28% had ISI scores >7, and 19% had ESS scores >10. Objective TST was not different between sexes (6.7±0.1 vs. 6.7±0.1 hours, p=0.99), but females demonstrated higher SE (87±1 vs. 82±1%, p<0.01) and lower WASO (31±2 vs. 38±2 min, p=0.02). Male athletes significantly overestimated TST (i.e., subjective minus objective TST) when compared to female athletes (?0.7±0.1 vs. ?0.3±0.1 hours/night; p<0.01). PSQI, ISI, and ESS were not different between sexes. Conclusions The majority of male and female collegiate athletes received less than age-recommended levels of sleep, and 44% subjectively reported poor sleep quality, mild severity insomnia, and/or excessive daytime sleepiness. Sex differences were observed in male and female collegiate athletes.



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