Sports (Basel). 2022 Jul 31;10(8):119. doi: 10.3390/sports10080119.
Research is emerging on the use of Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) and its potential for augmenting human performance, however, relatively little research exists utilizing full-body administration methods. As such, further research supporting the efficacy of whole-body applications of PBMT for behavioral and physiological modifications in applicable, real-world settings are warranted. The purpose of this analysis was to observe cardiorespiratory and sleep patterns surrounding the use of full-body PBMT in an elite cohort of female soccer players. Members of a women’s soccer team in a “Power 5 conference” of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) were observed across one competitive season while wearing an OURA Ring nightly and a global positioning system (GPS) sensor during training. Within-subject comparisons of cardiorespiratory physiology, sleep duration, and sleep composition were evaluated the night before and after PBMT sessions completed as a standard of care for team recovery. Compared to pre-intervention, mean heart rate (HR) was significantly lower the night after a PBMT session (p = 0.0055). Sleep durations were also reduced following PBMT, with total sleep time (TST) averaging 40 min less the night after a session (p = 0.0006), as well as significant reductions in light sleep (p = 0.0307) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep durations (p = 0.0019). Sleep durations were still lower following PBMT, even when controlling for daily and accumulated training loads. Enhanced cardiorespiratory indicators of recovery following PBMT, despite significant reductions in sleep duration, suggest that it may be an effective modality for maintaining adequate recovery from the high stress loads experienced by elite athletes.