Caffeine use in a Super Rugby game and its relationship to post-game sleep

Ian C. Dunican, Charles C. Higgins, Maddison J. Jones, Michael W. Clarke, Kevin Murray, Brian Dawson, John A. Caldwell, Shona L. Halson, Peter R. Eastwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To examine the relationship between regular game-related caffeine consumption on sleep after an evening Super Rugby game. Methods: Twenty elite rugby union players wore a wrist-activity monitor to measure sleep for three days before, three days after and on the night of an evening Super Rugby game (19:00–21:00). Players ingested caffeine as they would normally (i.e. before and sometimes during a game) and saliva samples were collected before (17:00) and after (21:30) the game for caffeine concentration. Results: Compared to the nights leading up to the game, on the night of the game, players went to bed 3 h later (23:08 ± 66 min vs 02:11 ± 114 min; p <.001) and had 1:30 hh:mm less sleep (5:54 ± 2:59 vs 8:02 ± 1:24 hh:mm; p <.05) and four players did not sleep after the game. Post-game caffeine saliva concentrations were greater than pre-game levels in 17 players (Pre-game 0.40 µg/mL vs Post-game 2.77 µg/mL; p <.001). The increase in caffeine saliva concentrations was moderately associated with an increase in sleep latency (p <.05), a decrease in sleep efficiency (p <.05), and a trend for a decrease in sleep duration (p =.06) on game night. Conclusion: Caffeine consumption before a Super Rugby game markedly increases post-game saliva caffeine levels. This may contribute to the observed 3.5 h delay in time at sleep onset and the 1.5 h reduction in sleep duration on the night of the game. This study highlights the need for a strategic approach to the use of caffeine within a Super Rugby team considering the potential effect on post-game sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-523
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Competition
  • recovery
  • team sport


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