Sleep and performance during a preseason in elite rugby union athletes

Angus R. Teece, Christos K. Argus, Nicholas Gill, Martyn Beaven, Ian C. Dunican, Matthew W. Driller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Preseason training optimises adaptations in the physical qualities required in rugby union athletes. Sleep can be compromised during periods of intensified training. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between sleep quantity and changes in physical performance over a preseason phase in professional rugby union athletes. Methods: Twenty-nine professional rugby union athletes (Mean ± SD, age: 23 ± 3 years) had their sleep duration monitored for 3 weeks using wrist actigraphy. Strength and speed were assessed at baseline and at week 3. Aerobic capacity and body composition were assessed at baseline, at week 3 and at week 5. Participants were stratified into 2 groups for analysis: <7 h 30 min sleep per night (LOW, n = 15) and >7 h 30 min sleep per night (HIGH, n = 14). Results: A significant group x time interaction was determined for aerobic capacity (p = 0.02, d = 1.25) at week 3 and for skinfolds at week 3 (p < 0.01, d = 0.58) and at week 5 (p = 0.02, d = 0.92), in favour of the HIGH sleep group. No differences were evident between groups for strength or speed measures (p ≥ 0.05). Conclusion: This study highlights that longer sleep duration during the preseason may assist in enhancing physical qualities including aerobic capacity and body composition in elite rugby union athletes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4612
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


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