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Sleep deprivation impairs athletic performance to a greater degree among men than in women

Background

Sleep deprivation is known to impair athletic performance. Although some evidence suggests that sleep deprivation affects men and women differently,[1] it's unclear whether these differences extend to athletic performance.

The study

This study asked whether agility performance is influenced by the time of day and whether this time-of-day effect is influenced by total sleep deprivation (TSD), recovery sleep, or gender. Twenty-two student-athletes performed an agility test in the morning and evening after a normal night's sleep and after a night of TSD. The night after TSD, participants were permitted to sleep at will (recovery sleep) and performed the agility test the following afternoon.

The results

For men, performance improved in the afternoon compared to the morning for both the normal sleep and TSD conditions, but time of day showed little effect for women. TSD worsened performance overall, but greater worsening was observed among men. The participants’ ratings of perceived exertion increased after TSD, and this increase was greater among women. One night of recovery sleep was sufficient to improve performance to baseline levels.

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