Sleep better to play better
Ongoing research out of Stanford University is continuing to establish the relationship between athletic performance and sleeping habits. Sleep lab researcher Cheri Mah has now conducted studies with male basketball players and male and female swimmers for Stanford. The results are conclusive: more sleep for the athletes yielded better performance.
The athletes were asked to compare their performance results during periods of normal sleeping habits with 6-7 week trial periods of at least 10 hours of sleep per night. During the period of extended sleep, the athletes demonstrated improved quickness, speed, and reaction time. Furthermore, they reported better moods throughout the day, reduced daytime sleepiness, and increased energy.
Said Mah of her research: “These results begin to elucidate the importance of sleep on athletic performance and, more specifically, how sleep is a significant factor in achieving peak athletic performance.”
Some tips for sleeping better for better performance:
- Make sleep a part of your regular training regimen.
- Extend nightly sleep for several weeks to reduce your sleep debt before competition.
- Maintain a low sleep debt by obtaining a sufficient amount of nightly sleep (seven to eight hours for adults, nine or more hours for teens and young adults).
- Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same times every day.
- Take brief naps to obtain additional sleep during the day, especially if drowsy.