The aim of this study was to explore the effect of rest; training and match days on sleep quality and wellbeing during midseason in a sample of professional rugby union players. Further, the study aimed to establish any effect of sleep quality on wellbeing. The participants were 14 professional rugby union players from Leeds Carnegie between the ages of 19 and 23 (M age = 21y, SD = 2). Data were collected through an online questionnaire based on Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and Daily Analyses of Life Demands in Athletes (DALDA) questionnaires for sleep quality and wellbeing respectively. Injury status of each player was also recorded. Sleep quality decreased the morning after a match day by 5% and 4% in comparison with after a rest day or training day respectively. Wellbeing scores increased after a match day by 14% and 13% in comparison to rest days and training days indicating a poorer wellbeing. In comparison to rest days muscle soreness increased after both training days and match days by 9% and 15% respectively. Injury status did not affect sleep scores. The primary finding of this study was that, following a match day general wellbeing and sleep quality decreased. Sleep quality is one of the most important factors regarding post-match recovery. The present study found that after a match day, the number of night time awakenings increased. Sleep fragmentation negatively affects sleep quality as a consequence a reoccurring arousal throughout the night. The decrease in sleep quality after a match day is of interest because of its physiological and psychological implications to the post-match recovery process. The findings of this study demonstrate that match play affects sleep quality and suggest that decreases in sleep quality negatively affect wellbeing. It is important for players to have adequate sleep quality after training and match days to aid appropriate physical recovery. Furthermore, adequate sleep quality is important in the maintenance of high wellbeing scores and thus needs to be monitored by coaches and practitioners.
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