Research Topic

The Reciprocal Relationship Between Sleep and Stress in Elite Athletes

About this Research Topic

Sleep is a biological process having several cognitive and physiological functions that are essential for recovery and performance in elite athletes. Recently, the International Olympic Committee has outlined the importance of obtaining sufficient sleep to promote global development and health among athletes. However, recent evidence suggests elite athletes sleep less time than recommended published by national sleep foundations. Indeed, elite athletes seem to experience sleep restriction (SR) and/or, total sleep deprivation (TSD) regularly in training and competition. SR is the partial reduction in sleep volume and it occurs when an athlete falls asleep later or wakes up earlier than their normal habits, while TSD is the total loss of sleep for at least one night. It seems that SR is more likely to affect performance of higher cognitive tasks rather than sports involving gross-motor execution. TSD appears to have a greater effect on endurance performances compared to shorter exercise bouts.

Many endogenous and exogenous factors are able to negatively influence sleep in athletes, including high-volume and/or intensity training, pre-competition anxiety, mental fatigue or long-haul travel. Reduced motivation and increased perceived exertion have been described as crucial factors when evaluating potential mechanisms of performance impairment after acute sleep loss in elite athletes. Recent research also observed a potential relationship between chronic sleep impairment and an increased risk for infections. Even though a large amount of research describing sleep habits and acute effects of sleep loss in athletes has been published in recent years, studies evaluating chronic effects are still missing. Therefore, the goal of this Research Topic is to explore the reciprocal relationship between sleep and physical/mental health, performance and recovery in elite athletes.

We welcome submissions that address the following fields/topics:

• Influence of chronic psychological stress (including social isolation due to Covid-19 outbreak) on athletes’ sleep.
• The role of napping for athletes, specifically for cognitive and physical functions.
• Influence of athletes’ training schedule and lifestyle on sleep behavior.
• Effect of sleep restriction/deprivation on athletes’ psychological and physical performance.
• Evidence-based or novel solutions to mitigate sleep disruption in athletes.
• Influence of social (e.g. new technologies) and sport-specific factors on sleep
• Influence on school and/or work commitments on sleep among elite athletes

Original research, data reports, case studies, theoretical perspectives, and commentaries are welcome.

Disclaimer: Topic editor Jacopo A Vitale is employed by B&T Spa. All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regards to the Research Topic subject.


Keywords: Sleep, athlete, sleep restriction, sleep deprivation, recovery, performance, jet-lag, sleep hygiene, injury, overtraining, mental fatigue, mental burden, mental health, mood


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Sleep is a biological process having several cognitive and physiological functions that are essential for recovery and performance in elite athletes. Recently, the International Olympic Committee has outlined the importance of obtaining sufficient sleep to promote global development and health among athletes. However, recent evidence suggests elite athletes sleep less time than recommended published by national sleep foundations. Indeed, elite athletes seem to experience sleep restriction (SR) and/or, total sleep deprivation (TSD) regularly in training and competition. SR is the partial reduction in sleep volume and it occurs when an athlete falls asleep later or wakes up earlier than their normal habits, while TSD is the total loss of sleep for at least one night. It seems that SR is more likely to affect performance of higher cognitive tasks rather than sports involving gross-motor execution. TSD appears to have a greater effect on endurance performances compared to shorter exercise bouts.

Many endogenous and exogenous factors are able to negatively influence sleep in athletes, including high-volume and/or intensity training, pre-competition anxiety, mental fatigue or long-haul travel. Reduced motivation and increased perceived exertion have been described as crucial factors when evaluating potential mechanisms of performance impairment after acute sleep loss in elite athletes. Recent research also observed a potential relationship between chronic sleep impairment and an increased risk for infections. Even though a large amount of research describing sleep habits and acute effects of sleep loss in athletes has been published in recent years, studies evaluating chronic effects are still missing. Therefore, the goal of this Research Topic is to explore the reciprocal relationship between sleep and physical/mental health, performance and recovery in elite athletes.

We welcome submissions that address the following fields/topics:

• Influence of chronic psychological stress (including social isolation due to Covid-19 outbreak) on athletes’ sleep.
• The role of napping for athletes, specifically for cognitive and physical functions.
• Influence of athletes’ training schedule and lifestyle on sleep behavior.
• Effect of sleep restriction/deprivation on athletes’ psychological and physical performance.
• Evidence-based or novel solutions to mitigate sleep disruption in athletes.
• Influence of social (e.g. new technologies) and sport-specific factors on sleep
• Influence on school and/or work commitments on sleep among elite athletes

Original research, data reports, case studies, theoretical perspectives, and commentaries are welcome.

Disclaimer: Topic editor Jacopo A Vitale is employed by B&T Spa. All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regards to the Research Topic subject.


Keywords: Sleep, athlete, sleep restriction, sleep deprivation, recovery, performance, jet-lag, sleep hygiene, injury, overtraining, mental fatigue, mental burden, mental health, mood


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

24 October 2020 Abstract
20 February 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

24 October 2020 Abstract
20 February 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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