Prevalence of poor sleep quality, sleepiness and obstructive sleep apnoea risk factors in athletes
Despite the perceived importance of sleep for athletes, little is known regarding athlete sleep quality, their prevalence of daytime sleepiness or risk factors for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) such as snoring and witnessed apnoeic episodes. The purpose of the present study was to characterise normative sleep quality among highly trained team sport athletes.
175 elite or highly trained rugby sevens, rugby union and cricket athletes completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Epworth Sleepiness Score (ESS) and Quality of Life questionnaires and an OSA risk factor screen.
On average, athletes reported 7.9 ± 1.3 h of sleep per night. The average PSQI score was 5.9 ± 2.6, and 50% of athletes were found to be poor sleepers (PSQI > 5). Daytime sleepiness was prevalent throughout the population (average global score of 8.5) and clinically significant (ESS score of ≥10) in 28% of athletes. OSA may be an important clinical consideration within athletic populations, as a considerable number of athletes (38%) defined themselves as snorers and 8% reported having a witnessed apnoeic episode. The relationship between self-rated sleep quality and actual PSQI score was strong (Pearson correlation of 0.4 ± 0.1, 90% confidence limits).
These findings suggest that this cohort of team sport athletes suffer a preponderance of poor sleep quality, with associated high levels of daytime sleepiness. Athletes should receive education about how to improve sleep wake schedules, extend total sleep time and improve sleep quality.