Slow Wave Sleep of Elite and Nonelite Gymnasts Is Influenced by Weekly Training Hours, Not by Fitness Level

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: This study aimed to determine the influencing factors of potential differences in sleep architecture between elite (EG) and nonelite (NEG) female artistic gymnasts. Methods: Twelve EG (15.1 [1.5] y old) and 10 NEG (15.3 [1.8] y old) underwent a nocturnal polysomnography after a regular training day (5.8 [0.8] h vs 2.6 [0.7] h), and, on a separate test day, they performed an incremental treadmill test after a rest day in order to determine physical fitness status. A multiple linear regression assessed the predictive value of training and fitness parameters toward the different sleep phases. Total sleep time and sleep efficiency (proportion of time effectively asleep to time in bed), as well as percentage of nonrapid eye movement sleep phase 1 (NREM1) and 2 (NREM2), slow wave sleep (SWS), and rapid eye movement sleep (REM), during a single night were compared between EG and NEG using an independent-samples t test. Results: Peak oxygen uptake influenced NREM1 (β = 1.035, P = .033), while amount of weekly training hours predicted SWS (β = 1.897, P = .032). No differences were documented between EG and NEG in total sleep time and sleep efficiency. SWS was higher in EG (36.9% [11.4%]) compared with NEG (25.9% [8.3%], P = .020), compensated by a lower proportion of NREM2 (38.7% [10.2%] vs 48.4% [6.5%], P = .017), without differences in NREM1 and REM. Conclusions: The proportion of SWS was only predicted by weekly training hours and not by training hours the day of the polysomnography or physical fitness, while NREM1 was linked with fitness level. Sleep efficiency did not differ between EG and NEG, but in EG, more SWS and less NREM2 were identified.

Dumortier, Boone, and Bourgois are with the Dept of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium, Gent, Belgium. Mariman, Delesie, Tobback, and Vogelaers are with the Dept of General Internal Medicine; Mariman and Vogelaers, the Dept of Internal Medicine; and Bourgois, the Center of Sports Medicine, Ghent University Hospital, Gent, Belgium.

Bourgois (Jan.Bourgois@UGent.be) is corresponding author.
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