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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

Supervisors: 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

Supervisors: Dr Jonathon Weakley and Professor Shona Halson

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Menstrual cycle, sleep, performance and recovery with female 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 the variability of sleep (quality or quantity), nor the variability in performance testing throughout the menstrual cycle. Consequently, while fluctuations in ovarian steroid hormones are suggested to have a potential influence on female athletes sleep and performance, compared to males, there are no clear implications, especially for well-trained and elite female athletes.

This project will involve a series of studies that will examine the relationship between the menstrual cycle, sleep, performance and recovery in female athletes (recreational, well-trained, and professional). Additionally, sleep architecture will be compared between female athletes of different levels (elite and recreational). Overall, the project will examine both subjective and objective measures of sleep and a variety of performance tests across the menstrual cycle in female athletes. Furthermore, female hormones will be measured for the appropriate verification of the different menstrual cycle phases, or the impact of hormonal contraception use. Considering the lack of information in this area, the proposed project aims to help support the healthy development, wellbeing, and performance of female athletes.

Student: Madison Pearson

Supervisors: Associate Professor Shona Halson and Dr Jonathon Weakley

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Sleep, performance and mental fatigue in elite female athletes

This research project will be the first to quantify sleep and mental fatigue in elite female athletes who experience menstrual dysfunction (MD). Subsequently, a series of interventions will aim to optimise sleep in elite female athletes aiming to improve physiological and psychobiological sports-related performance. This will be achieved by investigating the influence of sleep extension, via an adjustment in habitual time in bed. Secondly, pre-sleep interventions will then aim to improve the quality of sleep, by means of immersive virtual reality and Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback breathing interventions. By improving sleep, these studies aim to improve physiological and psycho-biological aspects of sports-related performance. This program of studies will have practical outcomes that will allow for individualised and optimised sleep education and prescription, and subsequently, improved performance in elite Queensland/Australian female athletes.

Student: Catherine Paice

Supervisors: Professor Shona Halson, Dr Suzy Russell, Dr Rich Johnston, Mr David Watts

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The influence of menstrual cycle phase-based resistance training on performance, recovery, and adaptation

This research project aims to investigate the effects of different training methods (i.e., traditional, phase-based prescription, or autoregulated based on symptoms) on physical performance, recovery, and adaptation in female athletes. Furthermore, this comprehensive project will be the first to assess whether these methods of training prescription are of benefit in a real-world training program. The findings of this research will provide an insight as to whether modifying training according to menstrual cycle phase or symptoms can improve physical adaptation and within-session measures of performance. Furthermore, the findings may also allow for an increased understanding of whether these forms of training prescription can improve outcomes related to sleep, or recovery and wellness for female athletes.

Student: Garbiella Munteanu

Supervisors: Dr Jonathon Weakley and Professor Shona Halson

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