Purpose: Psychological stress is reported to be an important contributor to reduced sleep quality and quantity observed in elite athletes. The purpose of this study was to explore the association between psychological stress and sleep and to identify if specific aspects of sleep are disturbed. Methods: One hundred thirty-one elite athletes (mean [SD], male: n = 46, age 25.8 [4.1] y; female: n = 85, age 24.3 [3.9] y) from a range of sports completed a series of questionnaires in a 1-month period approximately 4 months before the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Questionnaires included the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index; Recovery-Stress Questionnaire; Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS 21); and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Results: Regression analysis identified the PSS and DASS stress as the main variables associated with sleep. A PSS score of 6.5 or higher was associated with poor sleep. In addition, a PSS score lower than 6.5 combined with a DASS stress score higher than 4.5 was also associated with poor sleep. Univariate analyses on subcomponents of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index confirmed that PSS is associated with lower sleep quality (t 99 = 2.40, P = .018), increased sleep disturbances (t 99 = 3.37, P = .001), and increased daytime dysfunction (t 99 = 2.93, P = .004). DASS stress was associated with increased sleep latency (t 94 = 2.73, P = .008), increased sleep disturbances (t 94 = 2.25, P = .027), and increased daytime dysfunction (t 94 = 3.58, P = .001). Conclusions: A higher stress state and higher perceived stress were associated with poorer sleep, in particular increased sleep disturbances and increased daytime dysfunction. Data suggest that relatively low levels of psychological stress are associated with poor sleep in elite athletes.
Stressed and Not Sleeping: Poor Sleep and Psychological Stress in Elite Athletes Prior to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Shona L. Halson, Renee N. Appaneal, Marijke Welvaert, Nirav Maniar, and Michael K. Drew
Running at Increasing Intensities in the Heat Induces Transient Gut Perturbations
Alice M. Wallett, Naroa Etxebarria, Nicole A. Beard, Philo U. Saunders, Marijke Welvaert, Julien D. Périard, Andrew J. McKune, and David B. Pyne
Purpose: The risk of exercise-induced endotoxemia is increased in the heat and is primarily attributable to changes in gut permeability resulting in the translocation of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) into the circulation. The purpose of this study was to quantify the acute changes in gut permeability and LPS translocation during submaximal continuous and high-intensity interval exercise under heat stress. Methods: A total of 12 well-trained male runners (age 37  y, maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max] 61.0 [6.8] mL·min−1·kg−1) undertook 2 treadmill runs of 2 × 15-minutes at 60% and 75% VO2max and up to 8 × 1-minutes at 95% VO2max in HOT (34°C, 68% relative humidity) and COOL (18°C, 57% relative humidity) conditions. Venous blood samples were collected at the baseline, following each running intensity, and 1 hour postexercise. Blood samples were analyzed for markers of intestinal permeability (LPS, LPS binding protein, and intestinal fatty acid–binding protein). Results: The increase in LPS binding protein following each exercise intensity in the HOT condition was 4% (5.3 μg·mL−1, 2.4–8.4; mean, 95% confidence interval, P < .001), 32% (4.6 μg·mL−1, 1.8–7.4; P = .002), and 30% (3.0 μg·mL−1, 0.03–5.9; P = .047) greater than in the COOL condition. LPS was 69% higher than baseline following running at 75% VO2max in the HOT condition (0.2 endotoxin units·mL−1, 0.1–0.4; P = .011). Intestinal fatty acid–binding protein increased 43% (2.1 ng·mL−1, 0.1–4.2; P = .04) 1 hour postexercise in HOT compared with the COOL condition. Conclusions: Small increases in LPS concentration during exercise in the heat and subsequent increases in intestinal fatty acid–binding protein and LPS binding protein indicate a capacity to tolerate acute, transient intestinal disturbance in well-trained endurance runners.
Effect of Intensified Endurance Training on Pacing and Performance in 4000-m Cycling Time Trials
Alice M. Wallett, Amy L. Woods, Nathan Versey, Laura A. Garvican-Lewis, Marijke Welvaert, and Kevin G. Thompson
Studies examining pacing strategies during 4000-m cycling time trials (TTs) typically ensure that participants are not prefatigued; however, competitive cyclists often undertake TTs when already fatigued. This study aimed to determine how TT pacing strategies and sprint characteristics of cyclists change during an intensified training period (mesocycle). Thirteen cyclists regularly competing in A- and B-grade cycling races and consistently training (>10 h/wk for 4  y) completed a 6-wk training mesocycle. Participants undertook individually prescribed training, using training stress scores (TrainingPeaks, Boulder, CO), partitioned into a baseline week, a build week, 2 loading weeks (designed to elicit an overreached state), and 2 recovery weeks. Laboratory-based tests (15-s sprint and TT) and Recovery-Stress Questionnaire (RESTQ-52) responses were repeatedly undertaken over the mesocycle. TT power output increased during recovery compared with baseline and loading weeks (P = .001) with >6-W increases in mean power output (MPO) detected for 400-m sections (10% bins) from 1200 to 4000 m in recovery weeks. Decreases in peak heart rate (P < .001) during loading weeks and postexercise blood lactate (P = .005) during loading week 2 and recovery week 1 were detected. Compared with baseline, 15-s sprint MPO declined during loading and recovery weeks (P < .001). An interaction was observed between RESTQ-52 total stress score with a 15-s sprint (P = .003) and with a TT MPO (P = .04), indicating that participants who experienced greater stress during loading weeks exhibited reduced performance. To conclude, intensified endurance training diminished sprint performance but improved 4000-m TT performance, with a subtle change in MPO evident over the last 70% of TTs.