Adolescents are predisposed to poor sleep quality and experience shortened sleep durations due to biological and psychosocial factors. This trend is more pronounced amongst Asians. Sleep is acknowledged as a crucial component of recovery for athletes. However, a dearth of research exists on the sleep patterns of high-level adolescent-athletes. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of different sport-training intensity on adolescent-athlete sleep patterns and investigate the effect of habitual weekday nocturnal sleep durations experienced by Asian adolescent-athletes. A secondary aim was to compare weekday-weekend sleep duration differences of Asian adolescent-athletes. 11 high-level adolescent bowlers (n = 6) and badminton players (14.8 ± 0.9 years, 52 ± 9 kg) were recruited from a sports school for this study and categorised as low (LIS) and high (HIS) –intensity sport athletes respectively. Training intensity was obtained using heart rate (HR) monitors during training. Validated objective sleep and subjective daytime sleepiness measures included wireless dry electroencephalography (EEG) sensors, wrist actigraphs, the Paediatric Daytime Sleepiness Scale (PDSS), and the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS). No differences in training durations were noted. HIS spent significantly more training time in HR zones of 61–70% (p < 0.01), 71–80% (p < 0.01) and 81–90% (p < 0.05) HRmax. No differences in sleep durations were noted on nights with EEG recordings. HIS athletes showed significantly more deep sleep (139 mins ± 20 vs. 93 ± 7; p < 0.05), less light sleep (158 mins ± 25 vs. 191 ± 7; p < 0.05) and wake time after sleep onset (1 min ± 0.4 vs. 4.4 ± 1.5; p < 0.05) as compared to LIS athletes. Actigraphically determined bedtimes and waketimes were significantly delayed on weekends for both groups of athletes (p < 0.05). Mean total sleep time was only significantly longer on weekends for HIS athletes (374 mins ± 20 vs. 458 ± 70; p < 0.05). HIS athletes presented with greater subjective daytime sleepiness scores (KSS) at 9 pm when compared to LIS (p < 0.05). A large effect size difference in PDSS scores was also observed amongst the HIS athletes (d = 1.25). These findings suggest that adolescent-athletes may have differing recovery-sleep requirements based on the nature of their sport.
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