Sleep Quality in Elite Athletes: Normative Values, Reliability and Understanding Contributors to Poor Sleep

Shona L. Halson, Rich D. Johnston, Renee N. Appaneal, Margot A. Rogers, Liam A. Toohey, Michael K. Drew, Charli Sargent, Gregory D. Roach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The aims of this retrospective study were to (i) provide a description of sleep quality in elite athletes as measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), (ii) provide normative PSQI data, (iii) identify differences across sex and sport, (iv) identify components that contribute to high PSQI scores and (v) assess PSQI test–retest reliability. Methods: The PSQI was completed by 479 athletes (371 female and 108 male) across 20 Olympic team and individual sports. For ordinal and categorical variables, the Wilcoxon rank sum test and Chi Squared tests were used, respectively. A random forest regression was built to determine the importance of each PSQI component. Test–retest reliability was assessed using two-way mixed effects intraclass correlation coefficients. Results: Fifty-two percent of athletes had a global PSQI score ≥ 5. Team sport athletes reported significantly longer sleep onset latency times but longer sleep durations compared with individual sport athletes. Sleep onset latency and sleep quality made the greatest contribution to the global PSQI scores. The PSQI demonstrated variability over periods of 2 months or more, with a minimal detectable change of 3 arbitrary units (AU). Conclusion: Long sleep onset latency and poor perceived sleep quality made the greatest contribution to the high PSQI scores observed in approximately half of elite athletes investigated. The PSQI should be administered at regular intervals due to variability within individuals over periods of 2 months or more. Individual questionnaire items or component scores of the PSQI may be useful for practitioners in guiding decision-making regarding sleep interventions in athletes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-426
Number of pages10
JournalSports Medicine
Volume52
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

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