Effects of sleep disturbance on functional and physiological outcomes in collegiate athletes: A scoping review

James R. Wilkes, Alexa E. Walter, Anne Marie Chang, Sayers John Miller, Wayne J. Sebastianelli, Peter H. Seidenberg, Semyon Slobounov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate sleep disturbances and circadian timing changes on functional and physiological correlates specifically in collegiate athletes. Design: Scoping Review. Data sources: PubMed MEDLINE, SPORT-Discus, CINAHL, ERIC ProQuest, Web of Science. Eligibility criteria: Articles in English, studying college athletes 18–24 years old, employing a sleep measurement, and a comparison measure of cognitive, academic performance, athletic performance, injury rate, biomarkers and physiological measures, or imaging. Results: Thirty articles met inclusion criteria. There was wide range of study design, sport studied, modality used to measure sleep, frequency of sleep measurements, and functional and physiological outcomes across studies. Sleep measurements varied greatly in frequency of data collection and type of measurement tool, with the majority using a sleep questionnaire. While all variables of interest were represented within the review, most had a focus on cognitive performance, athletic performance, or injury rate as a function of sleep. Studies using biomarkers and physiological measures or imaging were largely underrepresented. Few studies used biomarkers and physiological measures, and one study used imaging measures. Most studies in this review reported negative cognitive and academic outcomes with worse sleep quality and quantity. Conclusions: Sleep is critical to maintaining optimal health and collegiate athletes represent a unique population given their unique time constraints, stresses, and sleep behaviors. Findings on athletic performance and injury rate as a function of sleep were mixed. Employing standardized objective methodologies in future work will allow for better understanding of the influence of sleep on the overall well-being and performance of college athletes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-19
Number of pages12
JournalSleep Medicine
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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