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Student athletes balance academic, social, and athletic demands, often leading to increased levels of stress and poor sleep. This study explores the relationship between sleep quality, sleep hygiene, and psychological distress in a sample of student athletes. Ninety-four student athletes completed the six-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6), Sleep Hygiene Practice Scale, and four components from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Age, gender, and sport were also collected. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index revealed that 44.7% of student athletes received ≥6.5 hr of sleep each night; 31% of athletes showed signs of severe mental illness according to the K6. Stepwise regression predicted K6 scores with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the Sleep Hygiene Practice Scale scores as independent variables. A significant model accounting for 26% of the variation in K6 scores emerged; sleep schedule and sleep disturbances were significant predictors. Athletic staff should highlight the importance of sleep for mental health; suggestions on how to help athletes are provided.
The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, Canada.