In 2011, a study weighed the effects of extending sleep to 10 hours per night for five to seven weeks. Researchers found an increase in many performances metrics for players on the Stanford basketball team who volunteered for the study. Studies with other sports have produced similar results.
It is clear throughout the studies that more sleep is beneficial in terms of athletic performance. Activities such as sprinting, reaction times and shooting accuracy all showed a performance improvement, with the effects on endurance are still somewhat unknown.
Sleep and performance is an area that researchers are just beginning to fully understand according to Cheri Mah, a researcher at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory. However, it is quite easy to conclude that a lack of sleep can limit your recovery and the rebuilding of muscles. Sleep deprivation has been linked to decreases in overall strength, poor concentration, and hypoglycemia. When we’re asleep, the body is able to release hormones that rebuild muscles and rewire our brains.
Other studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to an athlete reaching exhaustion in a shorter time. Even one night without sleep decreased the distance the test subjects could run in an half-hour.
It is important to prioritize sleep during the whole season for an athlete. Keeping a consistent sleeping schedule, even on the weekends, can really help you do better in your events.
To figure out where you fall on the sleep spectrum, it is important to ask yourself if you feel refreshed, or like you need a lot of coffee to feel awake. It is much easier to sleep when your bedroom feels like a good environment. Decorate it to your liking so it makes you feel secure. Also be sure to be aware of your alcohol and caffeine intake, and consider reading a book or unwinding 20 or 30 minutes relaxing before bed. Even if you’re not an athlete, paying special attention to your sleep environment and habits will have a positive impact on your quality of rest!
Want to live better? Sleep better! Science shows – When sleep wins, YOU Win! 🙂