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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sleep in College Club Athletes: Patterns, Correlates, and Comparisons with College Non-Athletes

  • Author(s): Tsukerman, Dmitry
  • Advisor(s): Charles, Susan T
  • Lukowski, Angela
  • et al.

Sufficient sleep is essential for maintaining physical and emotional well-being, and both quantity and quality of sleep are related to numerous well-being and functional outcomes. Among college students, poor sleep has been related to poorer mental health and academic performance. Collegiate athletes are a subgroup of college students that may face additional challenges in maintaining ample and good quality sleep due to the time demands, psychological pressures, and rigid schedules associated with participation in college sports. Sleeping well may be even more critical for college athletes relative to the general undergraduate population, as the success of college athletes on the field may greatly rely on the restorative benefits of sleep to both their physical and psychological functioning. However, no known studies have examined sleep or well-being outcomes in college club athletes, who compete at a lower level than NCAA-level athletes but may still experience many of the same stressors and sleep problems.

In two studies, the present dissertation examined both objective (i.e., wrist actigraphy) and subjective sleep parameters and their correlates in college club athletes (Study 1) and compared subjective sleep variables and academic performance between college club athletes and college non-athletes (Study 2). Club athletes and non-athletes did not differ in their sleep profiles or academic performance, but club athletes reported feeling less stressed than non-athletes. For club athletes, important relationships were found between both objective and subjective sleep measures and next day affect. Notably, athletes reported lower negative affect on days after which they had above average sleep efficiency and self-reported sleep quality the previous night, as well as higher positive affect after nights of better self-reported sleep. Additionally, for club athletes, better sleep hygiene was related to both higher daily and global subjective sleep quality and to lower reported insomnia severity. Sleep profiles of college club athletes are discussed in comparison to previous findings for college students, college athletes, and elite athletes. Implications for the affective and functional consequences of poor sleep in club athletes are also discussed.

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