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Understanding the patterns of caffeine consumption in professional athletes and the impacts on subsequent sleep quality

Caffeine is the most commonly used ergogenic aid employed by athletes to enhance performance. It is a psychoactive substance that acts primarily on the central nervous system to stimulate increases in cognition and physical performance. The mechanism of its action is the ability to bind to adenosine receptors within the brain. Caffeine is similar in structure to adenosine and acts to negate the role of this neurotransmitter in promoting sleep over wake in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. Although there is a wide body of research supporting its use as an ergogenic aid for athletic performance, there is a lack of understanding regarding the patterns of the caffeine consumption of professional athletes and the potential impacts on subsequent sleep. Given the negative performance decrements associated with poor sleep, this is an issue requiring attention. This program of research aims to explore the current patterns of caffeine consumption in the professional athlete population and the relationship with ensuing sleep duration and measures of sleep quality. Building from this, the program will aim to investigate the dose-timing response of caffeine on objective measures of sleep quality.

Student: Carissa Gardiner

Supervisor(s): Professor Shona Halson and Dr Andrew Townshend

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The influence of sleep on skeletal muscle, performance, and recovery.

This program of research will investigate the impact of sleep on skeletal muscle. It will explore how sleep influences skeletal muscle metabolism, performance, and recovery. The findings of this research may help identify strategies that can be used to optimise adaptations and recovery from exercise.

Student: Mr Matthew Morrison

Supervisor(s): Dr Jonathon Weakley and Professor Shona Halson

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Menstrual cycle, sleep, performance and recovery in elite athletes

There is currently very little known regarding the potential influence of the menstrual cycle on aspects of sleep, performance and recovery. In fact, there is not one published article that has assessed sleep quality or sleep quantity throughout the menstrual cycle in elite athletes. Furthermore, while fluctuations in ovarian steroid hormones have been suggested as a reason for larger variance in physical performance when compared to males, these have not been directly investigated.

This project will involve a series of studies that will examine the relationship between menstrual cycle, sleep, performance and recovery in elite athletes. Overall, the project will examine both subjective and objective measures of sleep and a variety of performance tests across the menstrual cycle in elite athletes. Furthermore, female hormones will be measured for the appropriate verification of the different menstrual phases. Considering the lack of information in this area, the proposed projects aim to help support the healthy development, wellbeing, and performance of female athletes.

Student: Madison Pearson

Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Shona Halson and Dr Jonathon Weakley

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