Psychological correlates of insomnia in professional soccer players: An exploratory study

Andrea Ballesio, Mariacarolina Vacca, Valeria Bacaro, Adriano Benazzi, Paola De Bartolo, Fabio Alivernini, Fabio Lucidi, Caterina Lombardo, Chiara Baglioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sleep promotes health, well-being, recovery and athletic performance. As a consequence, sleep problems in athletes may have detrimental effects. Previous investigations showed that professional athletes often reported to suffer of poor sleep quality and insomnia (e.g. difficulties falling asleep and/or maintaining sleep). However, psychological variables exacerbating and maintaining insomnia in professional athletes as well as its mechanistic pathways are still largely unknown. Available literature mostly focused on effects of sport-related variables, such as evening training and stimulant consumption on athletes’ sleep. Instead, the contribution of cognitive and emotional variables globally associated with insomnia in athletes in clinical models has been largely neglected. To address these limitations, this study explored the associations between emotional experience, pre-sleep arousal, pre-sleep worry and rumination and insomnia severity in a sample of 210 (25.93 ± 6.68 years) male professional soccer players. Bivariate correlations, multiple regression, and structural equation modelling with manifest variables (path analysis) were computed. Results showed that insomnia severity was associated with stimulants consumption, pre-sleep arousal, negative emotions, positive emotions, and pre-sleep worry/rumination (all p <.05). Path analysis showed that relationship between stimulant consumption, emotional experience, worry/rumination and insomnia was mediated by pre-sleep arousal (p <.05). Our results suggest that preventive and interventional studies in professional soccer players would benefit from considering global cognitive-emotional variables as targets of interventions. Highlights: Insomnia was associated with greater stimulants consumption, pre-sleep arousal, negative emotions, pre-sleep worry/rumination, and lower positive emotions. Path analysis showed that pre-sleep arousal mediated the relationship between stimulant consumption, emotional experience, worry/rumination and insomnia severity. Cognitive-emotional and behavioural factors as well as sport-related variables were important predictors of insomnia in professional soccer players.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Exercise
  • health
  • performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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