Effects of competition on the sleep patterns of elite rugby union players

David A Shearer, Rhys M Jones, Liam P Kilduff, Christian J Cook

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No published research has assessed sleep patterns of elite rugby union players following match-play. The present study examined sleep patterns of professional rugby union players, prior and post-match-play, to assess the influence of competition. Twenty-eight male rugby union players (24.4 ± 2.9 years, 103.9 ± 12.2 kg) competed in one of four competitive home matches. Player's sleep behaviours were monitored continuously using an Actiwatch® from two days before the match, until three days post-match. Repeated measures of analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed significant differences across the time points measured for time to bed (F = 26.425, η(2)  = 0.495, p < .001), get up time (F = 21.175, η(2) = 0.440, p < .001), time spent in bed (F = 10.669, η(2) = 0.283, p < .001), time asleep (F = 8.752, η(2) = 0.245, p < .001) and percentage of time moving (F = 4.602, η(2) = 0.146 p < .05). Most notable, post hocs revealed a significant increase for time in bed the night before the match (p < .01; 95% CI = 0 : 10-1 : 28 h; 9.7 ± 13.5%) compared with the reference night sleep. Furthermore, time asleep significantly decreased post-match (p < .05; 95% CI = -0:03 to -1:59 h; -19.5 ± 19.8%) compared to two nights pre-match. Across all time points, sleep latency and efficiency for most players were considered abnormal compared to that expected in normal populations. The results demonstrate that sleep that is deprived post-match may have detrimental effects on the recovery process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-686
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2015


  • Actigraphy
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Football
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recovery of Function
  • Sleep
  • Time Factors


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