Purpose: (1) To compare the sleep of female players from a professional soccer team to nonathlete controls across an in-season week and (2) to compare the sleep of core and fringe players from the same team on the night after a match to training nights. Methods: Using an observational design, 18 professional female soccer players and 18 female nonathlete controls were monitored for their sleep via wristwatch actigraphy across 1 week. Independent-sample t tests and Mann–Whitney U tests were performed to compare sleep between groups, while an analysis of variance compared sleep on training nights to the night after a match. Results: Soccer players had significantly greater sleep duration than nonathlete controls (+38 min; P = .009; d: 0.92), which may have resulted from an earlier bedtime (−00:31 h:min; P = .047; d: 0.70). The soccer players also had less intraindividual variation in bedtime than nonathletes (−00:08 h:min; P = .023; r: .38). Despite this, sleep-onset latency was significantly longer among soccer players (+8 min; P = .032; d: 0.78). On the night after a match, sleep duration of core players was significantly lower than on training nights (−49 min; P = .010; d: 0.77). In fringe players, there was no significant difference between nights for any sleep characteristic. Conclusions: During the in-season period, sleep duration of professional female soccer players is greater than nonathlete controls. However, the night after a match challenges the sleep of players with more match involvement and warrants priority of sleep hygiene strategies.
NOTE: This study used the CamNtech Actiwatch 4 (AW4) which was discontinued in 2008 – Direct replacement is MotionWatch 8.