Effects of a 2-Week High-Intensity Training Camp on Sleep Activity of Professional Rugby League Athletes

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

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Heidi R. Thornton
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Grant M. Duthie
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Nathan W. Pitchford
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Jace A. Delaney
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Dean T. Benton
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Ben J. Dascombe
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Purpose:

To investigate the effects of a training camp on the sleep characteristics of professional rugby league players compared with a home period.

Methods:

During a 7-d home and 13-d camp period, time in bed (TIB), total sleep time (TST), sleep efficiency (SE), and wake after sleep onset were measured using wristwatch actigraphy. Subjective wellness and training loads (TL) were also collected. Differences in sleep and TL between the 2 periods and the effect of daytime naps on nighttime sleep were examined using linear mixed models. Pearson correlations assessed the relationship of changes in TL on individuals’ TST.

Results:

During the training camp, TST (–85 min), TIB (–53 min), and SE (–8%) were reduced compared with home. Those who undertook daytime naps showed increased TIB (+33 min), TST (+30 min), and SE (+0.9%). Increases in daily total distance and training duration above individual baseline means during the training camp shared moderate (r = –.31) and trivial (r = –.04) negative relationships with TST.

Conclusions:

Sleep quality and quantity may be compromised during training camps; however, daytime naps may be beneficial for athletes due to their known benefits, without being detrimental to nighttime sleep.

Thornton and Dascombe are with the La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre, La Trobe University Bundoora Campus, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Duthie is with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, Australia. Pitchford is with the Inst of Sport Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Delaney is with Newcastle Knights Rugby League Club, Mayfield, NSW, Australia. Benton is with Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Thornton (Heidi.Thornton@uon.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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