A Sleep Analysis of Elite Female Soccer Players During a Competition Week

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: (1) To compare the sleep of female players from a professional soccer team to nonathlete controls across an in-season week and (2) to compare the sleep of core and fringe players from the same team on the night after a match to training nights. Methods: Using an observational design, 18 professional female soccer players and 18 female nonathlete controls were monitored for their sleep via wristwatch actigraphy across 1 week. Independent-sample t tests and Mann–Whitney U tests were performed to compare sleep between groups, while an analysis of variance compared sleep on training nights to the night after a match. Results: Soccer players had significantly greater sleep duration than nonathlete controls (+38 min; P = .009; d: 0.92), which may have resulted from an earlier bedtime (−00:31 h:min; P = .047; d: 0.70). The soccer players also had less intraindividual variation in bedtime than nonathletes (−00:08 h:min; P = .023; r: .38). Despite this, sleep-onset latency was significantly longer among soccer players (+8 min; P = .032; d: 0.78). On the night after a match, sleep duration of core players was significantly lower than on training nights (−49 min; P = .010; d: 0.77). In fringe players, there was no significant difference between nights for any sleep characteristic. Conclusions: During the in-season period, sleep duration of professional female soccer players is greater than nonathlete controls. However, the night after a match challenges the sleep of players with more match involvement and warrants priority of sleep hygiene strategies.

Thomas, Jones, and Louis are with the Research Inst for Sport and Exercise Sciences (RISES), Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Whitworth-Turner is with the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex, Camden, NJ, USA.

Louis (J.B.Louis@ljmu.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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