Inadequate recovery can substantially impact athletic performance and increase risk of illness or injury. Therefore, it’s no surprise that organizations invest plenty of time and money in technologies and facilities that are intended to enhance and speed up the recovery process. However, there remains considerable debate surrounding the efficacy of various recovery modalities. For example, research evaluating the effectiveness of various hydrotherapies and compression tools is conflicting. Perhaps greater attention should be given to the single most effective recovery tool available; sleep. There is little doubt that quality sleep facilitates physical and psychological recovery. Despite this awareness, it does not appear that teams are maximizing the regenerative and restorative properties of sleep. The first step in addressing sleep with a team is to determine how athletes are sleeping and how the training schedule may impact it.
A new study published ahead of print of the journal of Science and Medicine in Football quantified sleep quality in a team of Portuguese professional soccer players across various nights. Baseline measures of total sleep duration, sleep-onset latency, sleep efficiency, and wake episode duration were acquired across three days of normal training among twenty five players. These values were subsequently compared to sleep measures obtained from nights following home versus away matches as well as day time versus night time matches. Sleep data was acquired via wrist-based actimetry. The authors wanted to determine if markers of sleep quality differed for each context
The results showed that baseline total sleep duration was 6:36 hours and sleep efficiency was 85% which did not significantly differ from values obtained from day matches. These values are substantially lower than the guidelines for healthy sleep ranges which recommend 7-8 hours of sleep and >90% sleep efficiency. Total sleep duration was approximately 1 hour below baseline and day-match values following night matches. Interestingly, total sleep duration was 77 minutes higher following away matches versus home matches. These results suggest that the full effects of sleep quality are not being maximized at the professional level and that attention to sleep quality and duration should be prioritized.
Carriço, S., Skorski, S., Duffield, R., Mendes, B., Calvete, F., & Meyer, T. (2017). Post-match sleeping behavior based on match scheduling over a season in elite football players. Science and Medicine in Football, 1-7.