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Sarah Lynn Grace1, Jennifer A. Bunn, FACSM2. 1Campbell University, Buies Creek, NC. 2Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX.

BACKGROUND: Evaluating sleep quality among athletes is critical due to the adverse effects of sleep deprivation, including declined cognitive function, increased irritability, reduced communication skills, reduced athletic performance, and reduced capacity to think and react quickly. Analyzing qualitative sleep scores enable the athletes and coaches a format for communication to achieve optimum training, performance, and recovery. The purpose of this study was to assess changes in sleep quality in Division I female lacrosse athletes throughout the academic/training year. METHODS: The athletes (n = 34) completed an online questionnaire to rate sleep quality on each day of training and games. Sleep quality was rated in arbitrary units (AU) using the anchors of 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100, with higher scores representing better quality sleep. Friedman’s tests were used to analyze differences in weekly sleep quality from the fall semester and spring semester. RESULTS: Sleep quality scores in the fall semester ranged from 78.9-87.3 AU and the spring semester ranged from 80.7-88.6 AU. There was a difference in sleep among the fall semester, p = .005, with two weeks in mid-September (78.9-80.9 AU), and one week in mid-October (81.4 AU) having lower sleep quality scores (p = .001-.010). There were also weekly differences in the spring semester, p = .007, with lower scores during one week in mid-January and three weeks in early to mid-April (78.0-79.3 AU) and higher sleep quality scores were noted during mid- to late-February (83.8-86.5 AU), p = .009-.046. CONCLUSIONS: The university was on a COVID-19-related pause for in-person academics and extracurriculars during mid-October, just after a week of poor sleep quality. Additionally, many mid-term exams took place, and mid-term grades were finalized. Upon return to the normal activities, sleep quality also returned to normal levels. The reduction in sleep quality in April aligned with preparation for the start of final exams. These factors likely contributed to the decline in sleep scores. Overall, the results indicate that poor sleep quality among the studied athletes was related more to academics and personal life than training load and athletics.

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