OBJECTIVE: It remains unstudied whether poor sleep is involved in the etiology of gastrointestinal (GI) problems in athletes.
METHODS: Eighty-seven running and triathlon/duathlon race (>60 minutes) participants completed questionnaires to quantify the Sleep Problems Index-(SPI)-I and sleep parameters from the night before races. For GI symptoms, participants reported the severity (0-10 scale) of four upper and three lower symptoms during races. Spearman's correlations examined whether sleep measures were associated with in-race GI symptoms. Partial correlations were calculated to control for age, resting GI symptoms, and anxiety.
RESULTS: SPI-I scores correlated with in-race upper GI symptoms (rho=0.26, p=0.013). Controlling for anxiety attenuated this association (rho=0.17, p=0.117), while other control variables had little effect. Acute sleep quantity and quality were not associated with GI symptoms.
CONCLUSIONS: Chronic sleep dysfunction is modestly correlated with in-race upper GI symptoms, though future research should clarify whether this is mediated or moderated by factors like anxiety.
Original Publication Citation
Wilson, P. B. (2020). Associations between sleep and in-race gastrointestinal symptoms: An observational study of running and triathlon race competitors. Sleep Science, 13(4), 293-297. https://doi.org/10.5935/1984-0063.20200029
Wilson, Patrick Benjamin, "Associations Between Sleep and In-Race Gastrointestinal Symptoms: An Observational Study Of Running And Triathlon Race Competitors" (2020). Human Movement Sciences Faculty Publications. 99.