A novel sleep optimisation programme to improve athletes' well-being and performance

Eur J Sport Sci. 2017 Mar;17(2):144-151. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2016.1221470. Epub 2016 Aug 30.


Objectives: To improve well-being and performance indicators in a group of Australian Football League (AFL) players via a six-week sleep optimisation programme.

Design: Prospective intervention study following observations suggestive of reduced sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness in an AFL group.

Methods: Athletes from the Adelaide Football Club were invited to participate if they had played AFL senior-level football for 1-5 years, or if they had excessive daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale [ESS] >10), measured via ESS. An initial education session explained normal sleep needs, and how to achieve increased sleep duration and quality. Participants (n = 25) received ongoing feedback on their sleep, and a mid-programme education and feedback session. Sleep duration, quality and related outcomes were measured during week one and at the conclusion of the six-week intervention period using sleep diaries, actigraphy, ESS, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Profile of Mood States, Training Distress Scale, Perceived Stress Scale and the Psychomotor Vigilance Task.

Results: Sleep diaries demonstrated an increase in total sleep time of approximately 20 min (498.8 ± 53.8 to 518.7 ± 34.3; p < .05) and a 2% increase in sleep efficiency (p < 0.05). There was a corresponding increase in vigour (p < 0.001) and decrease in fatigue (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Improvements in measures of sleep efficiency, fatigue and vigour indicate that a sleep optimisation programme may improve athletes' well-being. More research is required into the effects of sleep optimisation on athletic performance.

Keywords: Fatigue; education; lifestyle; team sport.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletes / statistics & numerical data*
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sports / physiology
  • Young Adult