Training Load and Schedule Are Important Determinants of Sleep Behaviours in Youth-Soccer Players

Whitworth-Turner C.M., Di Michele R., Muir I., Gregson W., Drust B.

The current study examined how sleep may be influenced by the scheduling of training and match load within 10 youth soccer players. Sleep was measured over a 14-day in-season period using a commercially available wireless sleep monitor. Each collected sleep variable (lights out, sleep latency, total sleep time, wake after sleep onset, and final awakening) was compared for the specific day within the training schedule (e.g., match day [MD], day after match [MD + 1]) and to training/match load (high-speed distance [>5.5 m/s] [HSD] and rating of perceived exertion). The data were analyzed using mixed models and effect sizes to describe the magnitude of effects that training schedule and training load may have on sleep.

A reduction of sleep duration was observed on the day after the match (MD + 1) in relation to the training days preceding the match (MD-2: -65 min, ES: 0.89 ± 0.79; MD-1 -61 min, ES: 0.82 ± 0.64) and reduction on match day (+45 min; ES: 1.91 ± 1.69). This may suggest youth soccer players actively change their sleep scheduling behaviors in relation to the imposed soccer schedule. Increased high-speed running (for every 100 m) showed a small increase in total sleep time (+9 min; ES: 0.48 ± 0.31). This may suggest that increases in training load may be associated with small increases in sleep quantity. Such observations may highlight that the type of day and the associated load within the training microcycle may have important consequences for sleep within youth soccer players.

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