While the effects of sleep loss on performance have previously been reviewed, the effects of disturbed sleep on recovery after exercise are less reported. Specifically, the interaction between sleep and physiological and psychological recovery in team-sport athletes is not well understood. Accordingly, the aim of the current review was to examine the current evidence on the potential role sleep may play in postexercise recovery, with a tailored focus on professional team-sport athletes. Recent studies show that team-sport athletes are at high risk of poor sleep during and after competition. Although limited published data are available, these athletes also appear particularly susceptible to reductions in both sleep quality and sleep duration after night competition and periods of heavy training. However, studies examining the relationship between sleep and recovery in such situations are lacking. Indeed, further observational sleep studies in team-sport athletes are required to confirm these concerns. Naps, sleep extension, and sleep-hygiene practices appear advantageous to performance; however, future proof-of-concept studies are now required to determine the efficacy of these interventions on postexercise recovery. Moreover, more research is required to understand how sleep interacts with numerous recovery responses in team-sport environments. This is pertinent given the regularity with which these teams encounter challenging scenarios during the course of a season. Therefore, this review examines the factors that compromise sleep during a season and after competition and discusses strategies that may help improve sleep in team-sport athletes.
Fullagar, Skorski, Julian, and Meyer are with the Inst of Sport and Preventive Medicine, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany. Duffield and Coutts are with the Sport & Exercise Discipline Group, UTS: Health, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.