Sleep and performance during a preseason in elite rugby union athletes
journal contributionposted on 03.05.2021, 01:20 by Angus R Teece, Christos K Argus, Nicholas Gill, Martyn Beaven, Ian C Dunican, Matthew Driller
Background: Preseason training optimises adaptations in the physical qualities required in rugby union athletes. Sleep can be compromised during periods of intensified training. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between sleep quantity and changes in physical performance over a preseason phase in professional rugby union athletes. Methods: Twenty-nine professional rugby union athletes (Mean ± SD, age: 23 ± 3 years) had their sleep duration monitored for 3 weeks using wrist actigraphy. Strength and speed were assessed at baseline and at week 3. Aerobic capacity and body composition were assessed at baseline, at week 3 and at week 5. Participants were stratified into 2 groups for analysis: <7 h 30 min sleep per night (LOW, n = 15) and >7 h 30 min sleep per night (HIGH, n = 14). Results: A significant group x time interaction was determined for aerobic capacity (p = 0.02, d = 1.25) at week 3 and for skinfolds at week 3 (p < 0.01, d = 0.58) and at week 5 (p = 0.02, d = 0.92), in favour of the HIGH sleep group. No differences were evident between groups for strength or speed measures (p ≥ 0.05). Conclusion: This study highlights that longer sleep duration during the preseason may assist in enhancing physical qualities including aerobic capacity and body composition in elite rugby union athletes.