A comparison of sleep characteristics during weekly in-season competition vs pre-season training in Australian rules footballers

Introduction: Team-sport athletes experience impaired sleep on the night of matches (Fullagar et al., 2016) and during periods of high training stress (Killer et al., 2015). However, the period observed is either isolated to training or competition and is short in duration. Thus, the aim of this study was to compare sleep habits of Australian Rules Footballers (ARF) across the season incorporating pre-season training and weekly competition. Methods: Eight professional ARF had sleep assessed during in-season (IS) competition (11±4 4-day periods) and pre-season (PS) training (8-days). Time in bed (TIB), total sleep time (TST), sleep efficiency (SE; TIB/TST), sleep onset latency (SOL) and wake after sleep onset (WASO) was measured by wristwatch actigraphy. Paired t-tests were conducted to compare PS to IS sleep and one-way repeated measures ANOVA (P < 0.05) to compare IS nights’ sleep between the night before a match (MN-1), match night (MN) and two recovery nights (RN1 and RN2). Tukey post-hoc analysis was run to identify true differences. In addition, Cohen’s effects sizes (d) were used to interpret the magnitude of difference. Results: Although TIB was similar (IS; 507 ± 83 min, PS; 494 ± 63 min, P=0.277, ES 0.12), TST was greater during IS (458 ± 77 min vs. 432 ± 57 min, P=0.017, ES 0.26), resulting in higher SE (90.2 ± 3.2%, vs. 87.7 ± 6.3%; P<0.001, ES 0.39). During IS, MN-1 TIB was longer than MN (30%), RN1 (6%) and RN2 (8%). Further, TIB was longer during RN1 (18%) and RN2 (17%) vs. MN. Similarly, MN-1 TST was longer vs. MN (32%), RN1 (8%) and RN2 (10%). Additionally, TST was longer during RN1 (18%) and RN2 (17%) vs. MN. SE was higher for MN-1 vs. RN1 (1.5%) and RN2 (1.6%), while, WASO was shorter during MN vs. RN1 (-19%) and RN2 (-19%), and SOL only shorter for MN-1 vs. RN2 (-36%). Conclusion: While ARF sleep longer IS compared to PS it appears they also increase TST by ~2h the night before games, incur reduced sleep on match nights and subsequently repay this sleep loss in the following recovery nights. The presence of reduced sleep during PS and following MN may allow practitioners to target specific seasonal periods so as to maximise sleep opportunities.
© Copyright 2016 21th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS), Vienna, 6. -9. July 2016. Published by University of Vienna. All rights reserved.

Subjects: sports game American football sleep competition competition period preparation period
Notations: biological and medical sciences sport games
Published in: 21th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS), Vienna, 6. -9. July 2016
Editors: A. Baca, B. Wessner, R. Diketmüller, H. Tschan, M. Hofmann, P. Kornfeind, E. Tsolakidis
Published: Wien University of Vienna 2016
Pages: 317
Document types: congress proceedings
Language: English
Level: advanced