Objective Commonplace and the scientific community hold that physical activity exerts a favorable impact on sleep in adulthood. For adolescence, research is scarce, although restoring sleep is crucial for psychological functioning and cognitive–emotional performance during this period of life. The aim of the present study was, therefore, to investigate the impact of regular football training on sleep patterns in adolescents.
Method A total of 36 male regular football players and 34 controls (mean age: 16 years; average time spent for physical exercise per week was 12 hours for the regular football players, and 1.5 hours for the controls). Exercising consisted of four training sessions and an official game on a weekend day. Participants were controlled for educational level, and for depression and anxiety scores. They completed a sleep log for seven consecutive days.
Results Compared to controls, regular football players reported significantly shorter sleep onset latency (SOL), less awakenings after SOL, and higher scores of sleep quality and mood. They referred higher scores of concentration and lower scores of tiredness during the day. The variability of sleep duration and bedtime from weekday to weekend was significantly smaller among regular football players when compared to the control group.
Conclusions The study’s findings suggest that for male adolescents, regular sports is positively associated both with quantitative and qualitative dimensions of sleep. Moreover, regular physical activity on weekends such as playing football games seems to reduce unfavorable variations of sleep duration and bed time on weekends.
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