Research Article| Volume 6, ISSUE 5, P623-628, October 2020

Download started.


Subjective and objective sleep differ in male and female collegiate athletes

Published:March 06, 2020DOI:



      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.


      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 = .99), but females demonstrated higher SE (87±1 vs. 82±1%, P < .01) and lower WASO (31±2 vs. 38±2 min, P = .02). Male athletes significantly overestimated TST (i.e., subjective minus objective TST) when compared to female athletes (Δ0.7±0.1 vs. Δ0.3±0.1 hours/night; P < .01). PSQI, ISI, and ESS were not different between sexes.


      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.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Watson A.M.
        Sleep and athletic performance.
        Curr Sport Med Rep. 2017; 16: 413-418
        • Liu Y.
        • Wheaton A.G.
        • Chapman D.P.
        • Cunningham T.J.
        • Lu H.
        • Croft J.B.
        Prevalence of healthy sleep duration among adults - United States, 2014.
        Mmwr-Morbid Mortal W. 2016; 65: 137-141
        • Hartung M.K.
        Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation: an unmet public health problem.
        Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. 2007; 44: 1787-1788
        • Watson N.F.
        • Badr M.S.
        • et al.
        • Consensus Conference P
        Joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society on the recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: methodology and discussion.
        Sleep. 2015; 38: 1161-1183
        • Mah C.D.
        • Kezirian E.J.
        • Marcello B.M.
        • Dement W.C.
        Poor sleep quality and insufficient sleep of a collegiate student-athlete population.
        Sleep Health. 2018; 4: 251-257
        • Bonnar D.
        • Bartel K.
        • Kakoschke N.
        • Lang C.
        Sleep interventions designed to improve athletic performance and recovery: a systematic review of current approaches.
        Sports Med. 2018; 48: 683-703
        • Milewski M.D.
        • Skaggs D.L.
        • Bishop G.A.
        • et al.
        Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes.
        J Pediatr Orthoped. 2014; 34: 129-133
        • Mah C.D.
        • Mah K.E.
        • Kezirian E.J.
        • Dement W.C.
        The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players.
        Sleep. 2011; 34: 943-950
        • Wolfson A.R.
        • Carskadon M.A.
        • Acebo C.
        • et al.
        Evidence for the validity of a sleep habits survey for adolescents.
        Sleep. 2003; 26: 213-216
        • Lund H.G.
        • Reider B.D.
        • Whiting A.B.
        • Prichard J.R.
        Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college students.
        J Adolescent Health. 2010; 46: 124-132
        • Marques D.R.
        • Meia-Via A.M.S.
        • da Silva C.F.
        • Gomes A.A.
        Associations between sleep quality and domains of quality of life in a non-clinical sample: results from higher education students.
        Sleep Health. 2017; 3: 348-356
        • Kahlhofer J.
        • Karschin J.
        • Breusing N.
        • Bosy-Westphal A.
        Relationship between actigraphy-assessed sleep quality and fat mass in college students.
        Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016; 24: 335-341
        • Lastella M.
        • Lovell G.P.
        • Sargent C.
        Athletes' precompetitive sleep behaviour and its relationship with subsequent precompetitive mood and performance.
        Eur J Sport Sci. 2014; 14: S123-S130
        • Ohayon M.M.
        • Carskadon M.A.
        • Guilleminault C.
        • Vitiello M.V.
        Meta-analysis of quantitative sleep parameters from childhood to old age in healthy individuals: Developing normative sleep values across the human lifespan.
        Sleep. 2004; 27: 1255-1273
        • Walsh J.K.
        • Coulouvrat C.
        • Hajak G.
        • et al.
        Nighttime insomnia symptoms and perceived health in the America Insomnia Survey (AIS).
        Sleep. 2011; 34: 997-1011
        • Kloss J.D.
        • Perlis M.L.
        • Zamzow J.A.
        • Culnan E.J.
        • Gracia C.R.
        Sleep, sleep disturbance, and fertility in women.
        Sleep Med Rev. 2015; 22: 78-87
        • Axelsson J.
        • Kecklund G.
        • Akerstedt T.
        • Donofrio P.
        • Lekander M.
        • Ingre M.
        Sleepiness and performance in response to repeated sleep restriction and subsequent recovery during semi-laboratory conditions.
        Chronobiol Int. 2008; 25: 297-308
        • Reilly T.
        • Piercy M.
        The effect of partial sleep deprivation on weight-lifting performance.
        Ergonomics. 1994; 37: 107-115
        • Reyner L.A.
        • Horne J.A.
        Sleep restriction and serving accuracy in performance tennis players, and effects of caffeine.
        Physiol Behav. 2013; 120: 93-96
        • Buysse D.J.
        • Reynolds 3rd, C.F.
        • Monk T.H.
        • Berman S.R.
        • Kupfer D.J.
        The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index: a new instrument for psychiatric practice and research.
        Psychiatry Res. 1989; 28: 193-213
        • Johns M.W.
        A new method for measuring daytime sleepiness: the Epworth sleepiness scale.
        Sleep. 1991; 14: 540-545
        • Bastien C.H.
        • Vallieres A.
        • Morin C.M.
        Validation of the Insomnia Severity Index as an outcome measure for insomnia research.
        Sleep Med. 2001; 2: 297-307
        • Hann D.
        • Winter K.
        • Jacobsen P.
        Measurement of depressive symptoms in cancer patients: evaluation of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D).
        J Psychosom Res. 1999; 46: 437-443
        • Spielberger C.
        • Gorsuch R.
        • Lushene R.
        • Vagg P.
        • Jacobs G.
        Manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory (Palo Alto, CA, Consulting Psychologists Press). Inc.
        • Juliff L.E.
        • Halson S.L.
        • Peiffer J.J.
        Understanding sleep disturbance in athletes prior to important competitions.
        J Sci Med Sport. 2015; 18: 13-18
        • Fuller K.L.
        • Juliff L.
        • Gore C.J.
        • Peiffer J.J.
        • Halson S.L.
        Software thresholds alter the bias of actigraphy for monitoring sleep in team-sport athletes.
        J Sci Med Sport. 2017; 20: 756-760
        • Marino M.
        • Li Y.
        • Rueschman M.N.
        • et al.
        Measuring sleep: accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of wrist actigraphy compared to polysomnography.
        Sleep. 2013; 36: 1747-1755
        • Carney C.E.
        • Buysse D.J.
        • Ancoli-Israel S.
        • et al.
        The consensus sleep diary: standardizing prospective sleep self-monitoring.
        Sleep. 2012; 35: 287-302
        • Jungquist C.R.
        • Pender J.J.
        • Klingman K.J.
        • Mund J.
        Validation of capturing sleep diary data via a wrist-worn device.
        Sleep Disord. 2015; 2015: 758937
        • Shechter A.
        • Kim E.W.
        • St-Onge M.P.
        • Westwood A.J.
        Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial.
        J Psychiatr Res. 2018; 96: 196-202
        • Knufinke M.
        • Nieuwenhuys A.
        • Geurts S.A.E.
        • Coenen A.M.L.
        • Kompier M.A.J.
        Self-reported sleep quantity, quality and sleep hygiene in elite athletes.
        J Sleep Res. 2018; 27: 78-85
        • Kroshus E.
        • Wagner J.
        • Wyrick D.
        • et al.
        Wake up call for collegiate athlete sleep: narrative review and consensus recommendations from the NCAA Interassociation Task Force on Sleep and Wellness.
        Br J Sports Med. 2019; 53: 731-736
        • Patel S.R.
        • Weng J.
        • Rueschman M.
        • et al.
        Reproducibility of a standardized actigraphy scoring algorithm for sleep in a US hispanic/latino population.
        Sleep. 2015; 38: 1497-1503