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Seed Grant Awardee: Scott N. Brooks and Robert Turner

Sleep Apnea in Professional Football Players

Scott N. Brooks | T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics

Robert Turner | George Washington University

Sleep apnea is a highly prevalent sleep disorder that is characterized by repeated pauses (apneas or hypopneas) in breathing during sleep. Sleep Disorder Breathing (SDBis particularly prevalent among elderly populations, older men and racial minority groups (African American, Hispanic, Asian). An estimated 90% of individuals with sleep apnea are undiagnosed. Professional and collegiate football players are at increased risk for sleep apnea based on the major risk factors, which include male sex, high body mass index (BMI), and large neck circumference. Sleep disorders that are undiagnosed and therefore untreated is associated with daytime sleepiness, mood, cognitive and cardiovascular outcomes such as high blood pressure and heart attacks. In order to reduce the subsequent health burden of sleep apnea, it is important to target intervention strategies that promote sleep health, screening and treatment of sleep apnea among current and former football players.

The purpose of the proposed study is to develop an intervention featuring different videos of current and former collegiate football players and NFL athletes accompanied by a supportive person (e.g., wife, child, parent, HS/youth football coach)in their life, which will promote the importance of sleep health and endorse screening and treatment of sleep apnea. The content for the intervention will be based on data ascertained from current and former football playersusing a mixed-methods approach. Current and former players will be selected at random from PAC-12 universities, and the NFLPA database to review the videos on various new media platforms and evaluate the content for effectiveness. The results will serves as preliminary data for a NIH grant to be explored in a future study.

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Last updated February 2022.