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Cardiac autonomic function and sleep patterns after training sessions and matches in female soccer players
  1. Júlio Alejandro Henriques Costa1,2
  1. 1 Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
  2. 2 Portugal Football School, Portuguese Futebol Federation, Oeiras, Portugal
  1. Correspondence to Dr Júlio Alejandro Henriques Costa, Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Porto 4200-450, Portugal; jahdc{at}

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What did I do?

I investigated the impact of training sessions and official matches performed at different locations, times of the day and phases of the season (in-season and international tournaments) on nocturnal cardiac autonomic activity and sleep patterns in female soccer players using non-invasive and time-efficient equipment.

Why did I do it?

In some countries, most of the young adult female players usually start training sessions at very late hours, close to bedtime sleep, due to their daily life commitments. In this scenario, during my Ph.D., I published four observational studies on sleep and nocturnal heart rate variability (HRV) of elite and semiprofessional female soccer players aiming to better assist coaches and clinical experts to identify sleep and HRV disturbances.

How did I do it?

First, I investigated the sensitivity of nocturnal HRV to evaluate the effects of late-night soccer training sessions on nocturnal cardiac autonomic activity of semiprofessional female players (n=11) throughout a 1-week competitive in-season microcycle.1

I then conducted two additional longitudinal studies.2 3 The main purpose of study 2 was to analyse for three consecutive weeks whether exercise training conducted at night disturbs sleep and affects nocturnal cardiac autonomic activity in female soccer players (n=18).2 Study 3 aimed …

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  • Collaborators Supervised by Dr António Rebelo, PhD, and co-supervised by Dr João Brito, PhD, and Dr Eduardo Oliveira, PhD. Collaborators: Professor Dr Fábio Yuzo Nakamura, PhD, Professor Dr Pedro Figueiredo, PhD, Professor Dr Ovídio Costa, PhD and Professor Dr Vincenzo Rago, PhD.

  • Contributors Ph.D. degree in Sports Science and designed by the Center of Research, Education, Innovation and Intervention in Sport (CIFI2D), Faculty of Sport, University of Porto and Portugal Football School, Portuguese Football Federation (FPF), Oeiras, Portugal. Supervised by António Rebelo, Ph.D., and co-supervised by João Brito, Ph.D., and Eduardo Oliveira, Ph.D. João Brito and António Natal contributed to conceptualisation. JAHC contributed to conceptualisation, data curation, formal analysis, funding acquisition, investigation, methodology, visualisation, writing–original draft, writing– review & editing. João Brito, Eduardo Oliveira and António Natal contributed to investigation, methodology, supervision, Writing – review & editing. João Brito and António Natal contributed to project administration. António Rebelo contributed to validation.

  • Funding FIFA Research Scholarship 2017 (International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)) funded the study. The study was also supported by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia: SFRH/BD/128531/2017.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.