Australian Rules football, rugby union and soccer are popular football codes played in Australia. Factors including physical contact, types of movement and rules of each sport influence the physiological demand placed on players (Varley et al., 2014). Differences in gameplay between the Australian Rules football, rugby union and soccer mean that their method of training may differ, potentially impacting the sleep/wake behaviour of football players.
During a match, Australian rules footballers cover more distance (~12.6 km) than rugby union (~6km) and soccer players (~10km) (Varley et al., 2014). Additionally, the degree of physical contact varies between the football codes. Australian Rules footballers are subjected to 13 high impact collisions on average per game (Varley et al., 2014). Rugby union players engage in between 54 and 105 high collisions per game (Coughlan et al., 2011), while soccer does not possess the physical contact present in Australian Rules Football and rugby union.
Differences can be observed between the movement patterns in Australian Rules football, rugby union and soccer. Australian Rules footballers are permitted to tackle and bump opponents from any direction during gameplay (Gray and Jenkins, 2010), meaning that dynamic movements are played on a 360 degree plane. Rugby union is played with a 'head to head' structure, with players engaging in repeated physical collisions combined with short bursts of high intensity efforts in a straight line (Varley et al., 2014). The open-style gameplay observed in soccer results in players changing direction every 5 s, and performing approximately 1300 different movement actions, including sprints, turns, tackles and jumps on a 360 degree plane (Iaia et al., 2009)
While the physiological demand varies between Australian Rules football, rugby union and soccer, it is unknown whether these demands and subsequent method of training influence athletes' sleep/wake behaviour. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to compare the sleep/wake behaviours of athletes from Australian Rules football, rugby union and soccer.
Fifty-one male athletes participated in this study (mean age [+ or -] SD, 27.3 [+ or -] 3.4 years). Athletes from Australian Rules football (n=16), rugby union (n = 28) and soccer (n = 7) were recruited from professional teams across Australia. Athletes were provided with written and verbal information regarding the purpose of the study and...