The napping behaviours of British student-athletes

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Student-athletes are a population that display a high prevalence of poor sleep characteristics in response to sport- and academic- related sleep risk factors, and poor sleep may be harmful to sporting and academic performance (Kroshus et al., 2019, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 53(12), 731-736). Napping provides a means to supplement restricted nocturnal sleep. Therefore, the aim of this investigation was to examine the self- reported sleep characteristics and napping behaviours of British student-athletes. With institutional ethics approval, 157 participants (age range 16-25, 51.0% male) completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), and the Sleep Hygiene Index (SHI). Participants that reported napping also completed a modified version of a 6-item napping questionnaire (Lovato et al., 2014, PLoS ONE, 9(11):e113666). Associations between sleep questionnaires and napping were investigated using Pearson correlations. The results demonstrated that 100 participants (63.7%) reported napping ≥1 weekly and were classified as nappers. Amongst nappers, mean (±SD) weekly nap frequency was 2.5 ± 1.3 times. Most participants reported napping once (26%) or twice (31%) weekly (three: 24%; four: 14%; five or more times: 5%). Moderate significant associations with SHI (r(98) = .423, P < 0.001) and ESS (r(98) = .417, P < 0.001) global scores and nap frequency were observed, indicating poorer sleep hygiene behaviours and increased day-time sleepiness as nap frequency increased. Mean (±SD) nap onset time was 14:43 ± 02:09, with 45% of naps commencing between 14:00 and 16:00. Participants reported naps were more commonly initiated spontaneously (39%) rather than planned (13%), with 48% of responses reporting a mixture of both. Similarly, naps were ended spontaneously (42%) more often than using an alarm (28%), with 28% reporting a mixture. Only 28% of participants reported short nap durations of <30 minutes, whereas longer durations of 30-45 minutes (22%), 45-60 minutes (31%), and >60 minutes (19%) were more common. The most reported reason for napping was feeling sleepy during the day (58%), followed by the nap refreshing them (26%), having spare time (5%), avoiding feeling sleepy later (5%), with 6% providing other reasons. These results indicate that napping is a common practice amongst British student-athletes, but some napping behaviours do not align with sleep hygiene recommendations (Irish et al., 2015, Sleep Medicine Reviews, 22, 23-36). These are likely to be driven by poor behavioural practices and inappropriate scheduling of training and lessons, which should seek to be addressed through targeted sleep intervention
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2023
EventBritish Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Conference 2023 - Coventry, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Nov 202317 Nov 2023


ConferenceBritish Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleBASES 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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