Sleep and Salivary Testosterone and Cortisol During a Short Preseason Camp: A Study in Professional Rugby Union

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To examine changes in, and relationships between, sleep quality and quantity, salivary testosterone, salivary cortisol, testosterone-to-cortisol ratio (T:C), and self-reported muscle soreness during a residential-based training camp in elite rugby players. Methods: Nineteen male rugby players age 26.4 (3.9) years, height 186.0 (9.4) cm, and weight 104.1 (13.4) kg (mean [SD]) participated in this study. Wrist actigraphy devices were worn for 8 nights around a 4-d training camp (2 nights prior, during, and 2 nights after). Sleep-onset latency, sleep duration, sleep efficiency, and waking time were measured. Participants provided saliva samples during camp on waking and again 45 min later, which were then assayed for testosterone and cortisol levels. They also rated their general muscle soreness daily. Results: Little variation was observed for sleep quality and quantity or testosterone. However, significant differences were observed between and within days for cortisol, T:C, and muscle soreness (P < .001). Few relationships were observed for sleep and hormones; the strongest, an inverse relationship for sleep efficiency and T:C (r = −.372, P < .01). Conclusions: There may be no clear and useful relationship between sleep and hormone concentration in a short-term training camp context, and measures of sleep and testosterone and cortisol should be interpreted with caution because of individual variation. Alterations in hormone concentration, particularly cortisol, may be affected by other factors including anticipation of the day ahead. This study adds to our knowledge that changes in hormone concentration are individual and context specific.

Serpell, Horgan, Colomer, and Field are with the ACT Brumbies, Bruce, ACT, Australia. Serpell, Colomer, and Cook are with the Research Inst for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT, Australia. Horgan and Halson are with the Dept of Physiology, Australian Inst of Sport, Canberra, ACT, Australia. Horgan is also with the School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia. Halson is also with the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Banyo, QLD, Australia.

Serpell ( is corresponding author.

Supplementary Materials

    • SupplementaryTableS1.pdf (PDF 737 KB)