An education intervention in a professional female basketball team and coaching staff improves sleep and alertness – Part 2


By: Dr Ian C Dunican


In the last post, we established the sleeping patterns and behaviours of elite female basketball players (n=12) and their coaches (n=3). Now that we have collected this baseline, we have measures that we can use to assess any changes or improvements from our intervention. We have completed our first aim (i) quantify players and coaches’ sleep behaviours and alertness. If we recall our hypothesis for this study, a sleep-education program will improve sleep and alertness measures in elite female basketball players and their coaches. To test this, we used two more aims:

(ii) deploy a sleep education program for the individuals and the group. A sleep education program consisted of a 2-hour sleep education session that was delivered to players and coaches on topics such as sleep physiology, chronobiology, sleep disorders, managing sleep environments and sleep hygiene (Sleep4Performance offers this for industry and athletic groups).

Each player and coach also had a 20-min individual consultation with a sleep scientist) to discuss their results (objective and survey data) and potential sleep hygiene strategies. (Sleep4Performance offers this for industry and athletic groups)

(iii) quantify the change in sleep behaviours of players and coaches. The data collection phase for sleep and alertness measures was over four games (n=2 away, 2=home).


After the sleep education session, we found no statistical difference in any measure of sleep and performance with the players. However, we must remember that they had excellent sleep habits before the intervention, and all measures were all within the Sleep Health Foundation recommendations (7-9hrs per night) with an average sleep duration of 8hrs 10mins. This is slightly higher (~30 mins) than values reported in another Women’s National Basketball League Australian team over two consecutive seasons1.

When we observe the coaches, they had the most significant improvement. The coaches went to bed earlier (~17 mins), increased time in bed (~51 mins), increased sleep duration (~49 mins) and stayed in bed an extra 31 mins most mornings.

Perspective and conclusion

An education session on the importance of sleep and individual consultations is useful for promoting good sleep habits with players and coaches. This is often the case in industry settings; leaders are worried about the sleep and performance of employees and shiftworkers, whereas it is often the leaders who require the most attention. In our study, anecdotal feedback from the coaches indicated that after the individual consultation and the education session, they planned for and allowed for more sleep each night. In general, they aimed for an 8-hr sleep opportunity. To find out what the players thought about the study, check out our short news clip with the Perth Lynx Basketball Team.


  1. Staunton C, Gordon B, Custovic E, et al. Sleep patterns and match performance in elite Australian basketball athletes. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 2017



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