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Background: Sufficient sleep is required for optimal performance in athletes; however, there is no published information regarding sleep status in top wheelchair basketball players. This study has two objectives: to compare sleep status between the general population of young Japanese males and male wheelchair basketball players, and to examine differences in sleep status by physical disordered conditions of wheelchair athletes.
Methods: Study participants included 14 male wheelchair basketball players on a Japanese national team. Sleep status was assessed by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). A higher PSQI score indicates poor sleep quality. To compare sleep status between the general Japanese population and wheelchair athletes, we used data from a previous study that assessed PSQI in the former population. We divided athletes’ disordered conditions into two categories: spinal cord injury (n=9) and skeletal system diseases (n=5).
Results: The mean PSQI score was 5.8 ± 3.0 points; six athletes (42.9%) were over the cutoff point (5.5) for insomnia. The wheelchair athletes had significantly higher scores for sleep quality, sleep efficiency, and total PSQI than the general population of young Japanese males. The PSQI score of athletes with skeletal system diseases was significantly higher than athletes with spinal cord injury. Additionally, athletes with skeletal system diseases were significantly more likely to score over the cutoff point for insomnia than those with spinal cord injury.
Conclusions: Top male wheelchair basketball players had poorer sleep than the general population of young Japanese men, and athletes with skeletal system diseases more frequently suffered from insomnia compared with athletes with spinal cord injury. Effective methods to improve sleep are needed to help top wheelchair basketball players to achieve optimal performance.