Purpose: Anecdotal reports indicate that many elite athletes are dissatisfied with their sleep, but little is known about their actual sleep requirements. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the self-assessed sleep need of elite athletes with an objective measure of their habitual sleep duration. Methods: Participants were 175 elite athletes (n = 30 females), age 22.2 (3.8) years (mean [SD]) from 12 individual and team sports. The athletes answered the question “how many hours of sleep do you need to feel rested?” and they kept a self-report sleep diary and wore a wrist activity monitor for ∼12 nights during a normal phase of training. For each athlete, a sleep deficit index was calculated by subtracting their average sleep duration from their self-assessed sleep need. Results: The athletes needed 8.3 (0.9) hours of sleep to feel rested, their average sleep duration was 6.7 (0.8) hours, and they had a sleep deficit index of 96.0 (60.6) minutes. Only 3% of athletes obtained enough sleep to satisfy their self-assessed sleep need, and 71% of athletes fell short by an hour or more. Specifically, habitual sleep duration was shorter in athletes from individual sports than in athletes from team sports (F 1,173 = 13.1, P < .001; d = 0.6, medium), despite their similar sleep need (F 1,173 = 1.40, P = .24; d = 0.2, small). Conclusions: The majority of elite athletes obtain substantially less than their self-assessed sleep need. This is a critical finding, given that insufficient sleep may compromise an athlete’s capacity to train effectively and/or compete optimally.
Charli Sargent, Michele Lastella, Shona L. Halson, and Gregory D. Roach
Michele Lastella, Gregory D. Roach, Grace E. Vincent, Aaron T. Scanlan, Shona L. Halson, and Charli Sargent
Purpose: To quantify the sleep/wake behaviors of adolescent, female basketball players and to examine the impact of daily training load on sleep/wake behaviors during a 14-day training camp. Methods: Elite, adolescent, female basketball players (N = 11) had their sleep/wake behaviors monitored using self-report sleep diaries and wrist-worn activity monitors during a 14-day training camp. Each day, players completed 1 to 5 training sessions (session duration: 114  min). Training load was determined using the session rating of perceived exertion model in arbitrary units. Daily training loads were summated across sessions on each day and split into tertiles corresponding to low, moderate, and high training load categories, with rest days included as a separate category. Separate linear mixed models and effect size analyses were conducted to assess differences in sleep/wake behaviors among daily training load categories. Results: Sleep onset and offset times were delayed (P < .05) on rest days compared with training days. Time in bed and total sleep time were longer (P < .05) on rest days compared with training days. Players did not obtain the recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night on training days. A moderate increase in sleep efficiency was evident during days with high training loads compared with low. Conclusions: Elite, adolescent, female basketball players did not consistently meet the sleep duration recommendations of 8 to 10 hours per night during a 14-day training camp. Rest days delayed sleep onset and offset times, resulting in longer sleep durations compared with training days. Sleep/wake behaviors were not impacted by variations in the training load administered to players.