Sleep Patterns and Alertness in an Elite Super Rugby Team During a Game Week

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Sleep is a vital component of preparation, performance and recovery for a Super Rugby game. The purpose of this study was to quantify sleep behaviours and alertness of professional rugby union players during training and a game. Thirty-six rugby union players from a Super Rugby team wore a wrist-activity device (Readiband™) to measure sleep for 3 days before, 3 days after and on the night of an evening game. Players were separated into those selected to play the game (n = 23) and those who were not (n = 13). Alertness was assessed for all training and game times using bio-mathematical modelling. Alertness measures ≤90% were considered to reflect impaired reaction time. Those selected to play in the game progressively increased sleep duration over the nights prior to the game (by 92 min p ≤ 0.05) by delaying wake time. Players went to bed later after the game (02:20 ± 114 min vs 22:57 ± 60 min; p ≤ 0.001) which resulted in decreased sleep duration on game night compared to pre-game nights (296 ± 179 min vs 459 ± 78 min; p ≤ 0.05). Four players did not achieve any sleep on game night. Sleep duration appeared to be truncated by early morning training sessions (before 08:00) on the second and third mornings after the game. Alertness was >90% for all training and game times for all players. In conclusion, in the days leading into a Super Rugby game, players delay morning time at wake and consequently increase sleep duration with post-game sleep reduced in some.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Human Kinetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • actigraphy
  • alertness
  • athletes
  • recovery


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