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Travel fatigue and sleep/wake behaviors of professional soccer players during international competition
© 2018 Objective: The magnitude of travel completed by professional Australian soccer teams during domestic competition is substantial. The inclusion of Australian soccer teams into the Asian Champions league has seen additional stress placed on soccer players’ training and competition schedules. For management staff, the complexity of organizing training and travel schedules during domestic competition and the Asian Champions league is challenging. Design: Case study. Participants: Seven male professional soccer players (mean ± SD: age 25.2 ± 3.2 years, height 182.8 ± 5.2 cm, body mass 84.6 ± 7.4 kg). Measurements: This study examined the sleep and fatigue levels of Australian soccer players during an intensive home and away travel schedule during the Asian Champions league. Seven male professional soccer players’ (mean ± SD: age 25.2 ± 3.2 years, height 182.8 ± 5.2 cm, body mass 84.6 ± 7.4 kg) sleep/wake behavior was assessed using sleep diaries and wrist activity monitors for 19 days, including 9 days before, 5 days during, and 4 days after a home and away group stage match of the Asian Champions league. Analyses examined differences in sleep/wake behavior and fatigue levels between day type (training day, rest day, pregame, and postgame) and between sleep location (Adelaide, during flight, and Hiroshima). Results: Sleep/wake behavior and fatigue levels were poorest the night immediately after games compared to the night before games, training days, and rest days. Soccer players’ sleep/wake behaviors were disrupted during flights such that they obtained 3.6 hours less sleep during flights compared to sleep in Adelaide (7.0 ± 1.6 hours) and Hiroshima (7.0 ± 2.1 hours). Conclusion: The sleep/wake behaviors of professional soccer players are compromised when they are required to travel and compete in multiple matches within a short period of time.