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Post-Graduate Scholarships
PhD Position Available: Sleep extension and performance in Junior athletes

The Sleep/Wake Research Centre ( and the School of Sport and Exercise ( at Massey University are seeking a highly motivated PhD candidate with an interest in both sleep science and sport and exercise science to join a project to look at the effects of extending the sleep of elite junior athletes to improve their performance.

Elite junior athletes have demanding training schedules which must be balanced with other non-sporting commitments resulting in persistent time constraints and an accelerated pace of life. Training volume and schedules, in particular those that involve early morning sessions may restrict sleep and some elite athletes obtain less than 7 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis. This is a concern as the recommended sleep duration for teenagers (13-18yrs) is 8-10 hours and the International Olympic Committee identifies adequate sleep as one of the components of a balanced lifestyle for elite child athletes. Additionally, there is evidence that sleep extension can improve athletic performance and that sleep restriction is detrimental to immune health, mental health and increases accident risk.

The overall aim of this project is to investigate the sleep of elite junior athletes in New Zealand and its effects on their sporting performance, mental health and cognition. The project will:
a.      Compare the sleep habits and practices of athletes in sport(s) which have predominantly early morning training schedules (e.g. rowing and swimming) to that of athletes in sports for which training occurs later in the day (e.g. hockey, athletics)
b.      Compare the effects of different sleep habits/practices on athletes’ sporting performance, mental health and cognition;
c.      Implement a sleep extension intervention to investigate the effects of increased total sleep on athletes’ sporting performance, mental health and cognition.
Primary supervisor: Associate Professor Leigh Signal, Sleep/Wake Research Centre, Massey University
Co-supervisor: Jennifer Zaslona, Sleep/Wake Research Centre, Massey University
Co-supervisor: Associate Professor David Rowlands, School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University
Co-supervisor: Professor Philippa Gander, Sleep/Wake Research Centre, Massey University

Suitable candidates must meet the requirements for enrolling in a PhD at Massey University and have a strong background in one or more of the following fields: sleep and circadian science, sport and exercise science or human physiology. Entry requirements for a PhD at Massey University can be found here

A scholarship of NZ$25,000 per annum tax free for 3 years is available. The candidate will be responsible for fees. The position is based at the Wellington campus of Massey University. Applicants should send a CV and cover letter to A/Prof Leigh Signal ( Candidate selection will begin in January 2017. The scholarship must commence by 1 August 2017.

Academic Roles
Sport and Exercise Science Roles