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Napping in high-performance athletes: Sleepiness or sleepability?

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journal contribution
posted on 20.04.2020, 09:56 by Luke Gupta, Kevin MorganKevin Morgan, C North, Sarah Gilchrist
Daytime napping is a common practice in high-performance athletes, and is widely assumed to reflect sleepiness arising from sports-related sleep debt. The possibility that athlete naps may also be indicative of ‘sleepability’, a capacity to nap on demand that is only weakly related to homeostatic sleep pressure, has not previously been tested. The present study compared daytime sleep latencies in high-performance athletes and non-athlete controls using a single nap opportunity model. Elite (n = 10), and sub-elite (n = 10) athletes, and non-athlete controls (n = 10) attended the laboratory for a first adaption trial, and a subsequent experimental trial. Subjective sleepiness was assessed using the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS) at 14:00, 14:30 and immediately prior to a 20-minute nap opportunity at 15:00. Sleep latencies were measured using polysomnography, and defined as the time from lights out to the first epoch of any stage of sleep (N1, N2, N3, REM). In unadjusted comparisons with non-athlete controls, elite athletes showed significantly shorter sleep latencies in both the adaptation (p < 0.05) and experimental trials (p < 0.05). These significant differences were maintained in models controlling for pre-trial KSS scores and pre-trial total sleep time (all p < 0.05). Sleep latency scores for sub-elite athletes showed similar trends, but were more labile. These results are consistent with a conclusion that, among elite athletes, napping behaviour can reflect sleepability and may not necessarily result from nocturnal sleep disruption and daytime sleepiness.

Funding

English Institute of Sport grant

History

School

  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

European Journal of Sport Science

Volume

21

Issue

3

Pages

321-330

Publisher

Taylor and Francis

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© 2020 European College of Sport Science

Publisher statement

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in European Journal of Sport Science on 26 Mar 2020, available online: https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2020.1743765

Acceptance date

16/03/2020

Publication date

2020-03-26

Copyright date

2021

ISSN

1746-1391

eISSN

1536-7290

Language

en

Depositor

Prof Kevin Morgan Deposit date: 10 April 2020