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Stealing sleep: is sport or society to blame?
  1. Shona L Halson
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shona L Halson, Department of Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport, Belconnen, Australian Capital Territory 2616, Australia; shona.halson{at}ausport.gov.au

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Sleep debt negatively impacts the daily lives of both athletes and the general population at large. Elite athletes sleep less and have poorer estimated sleep quality than non-athletes.1 With sleep being vital for psychological and physiological functioning, why do we neglect such a critical biological function? For athletes, is reduced sleep a function of the elite athletes’ unique lifestyle or is our modern lifestyle generally the primary contributing factor?

Why we should devote a third of our life to sleep

As sleep has an influence on nearly all molecular, cellular, physiological and neurological functions,2 it would seem that sleep should be one of the foundations of an athlete’s training programme. Sleep deprivation can influence athletic performance, cognition, reaction time, immune function and pain perception,3 but it appears that scientists have only recently started to give research in athletes sleep the attention it deserves. …

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