The Chronotype of Elite Athletes

J Hum Kinet. 2016 Dec 15:54:219-225. doi: 10.1515/hukin-2016-0049. eCollection 2016 Dec 1.


The aims of this study were (i) to compare the chronotype distribution of elite athletes to a young adult population and (ii) to determine if there was a tendency for athletes to select and/or participate in sports which suited their chronotype. A total of 114 elite athletes from five sports (cricket, cycling, hockey, soccer and triathlon) participated in this study. The participants' chronotype, sleepiness, sleep satisfaction and sleep quality were determined using the Horne and Östberg Morningness and Eveningness questionnaire, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and questions concerning their sleep satisfaction and quality. All questionnaires were administered during a typical training phase that was not in the lead up to competition and/or post competition. No differences between chronotype group for sleepiness, sleep satisfaction or sleep quality were found. There was a significantly higher proportion of triathletes that were morning and intermediate types compared to the control group χ2 (2) = 7.5, p = 0.02. A significant relationship between sport and chronotype group (χ2(4)=15.9, p = 0.04) was observed, with a higher frequency of morning types involved in sports that required morning training. There was a clear indication that athletes tended to select and pursue sports that suited their chronotype. This was evident by the amount of morning types involved in morning sports. Given that athletes are more likely to pursue and excel in sports which suit their chronotype, it is recommended that coaches consider the athlete's chronotype during selection processes or if possible design and implement changes to training schedules to either suit the athletes' chronotype or the timing of an upcoming competition.

Keywords: circadian preference; sleep; sport.