Intraindividual variability in sleep among athletes: A systematic review of definitions, operationalizations, and key correlates.

Examining the landscape of sleep variability among athletes, a systematic review was conducted to delve into how researchers have conceptualized and investigated these fluctuations in sleep patterns. This comprehensive analysis, spanning 16 studies, highlights the varied approaches and limitations in defining and measuring sleep variability among athletes. The review uncovers critical gaps and potential pathways for refining our understanding of athletes’ sleep dynamics, paving the way for targeted interventions and improved sleep health strategies in sports.

Concept Clarity: In reviewing sleep variability studies among athletes, a lack of clear definitions hampers effective research. Defining sleep variability precisely is key for robust studies and practical applications.

Operationalizing Variability: Most studies measured variability as deviations from an athlete’s typical sleep, but there’s no consensus on assessing timeframes or statistical models. Clearer methods are needed.

Research Quality: Studies showed moderate quality, lacking in areas like justifying sample sizes and handling missing data. Strengthening research methodologies is vital for better insights.

Knowledge Gap: Current research primarily focuses on average sleep, ignoring within-person variability. Understanding variability is crucial for tailored interventions.

Future Strategies: Researchers should enhance methodologies to consider variability alongside mean sleep levels. Robust statistical models can offer deeper insights into athletes’ sleep patterns.

Practical Takeaways: Optimal sleep is vital for athletes’ well-being. Current personalized interventions often overlook variability, indicating a need for more inclusive strategies. Understanding both average sleep and variability helps in designing more effective sleep interventions for athletes, addressing individual needs more accurately.