A Complex Relationship: Sleep, External Training Load, and Well-Being in Elite Australian Footballers

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To assess relationships between objective sleep characteristics, external training loads, and subjective ratings of well-being in elite Australian football (AF) players. Methods: A total of 38 elite male AF players recorded objective sleep characteristics over a 15-day period using an activity monitor. External load was assessed during main field sessions, and ratings of well-being were provided each morning. Canonical correlation analysis was used to create canonical dimensions for each variable set (sleep, well-being, and external load). Relationships between dimensions representing sleep, external load, and well-being were quantified using Pearson r. Results: Canonical correlations were moderate between pretraining sleep and external training load (r = .32–.49), pretraining sleep and well-being (r = .32), and well-being and posttraining sleep (r = .36). Moderate to strong correlations were observed between dimensions representing external training load and posttraining sleep (r = .31–.67), and well-being and external training load (r = .32–.67). Player load and Player load 2D (PL2D) showed the greatest association to pretraining and posttraining objective sleep characteristics and well-being. Fragmented sleep was associated with players completing the following training with a higher PL2D. Conclusions: Maximum speed, player load, and PL2D were the common associations between objective sleep characteristics and well-being in AF players. Improving pretraining sleep quality and quantity may have a positive impact on AF players’ well-being and movement strategy during field sessions. Following training sessions that have high maximum speed and PL2D, the increased requirement for sleep should be considered by ensuring that subsequent sessions do not start earlier than required.

Lalor, Halson, Kemp, and Cormack are with the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Tran is with Knowledge Edge for Tokyo, High Performance Sport New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand.

Lalor (benita.lalor@myacu.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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