July 1, 2011
Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine
A new study shows that sleep extension is beneficial to athletic performance, reaction time, vigor, fatigue and mood in collegiate basketball players. The study is the first to document sleep extension and the athletic performance of actively competing athletes.
Results of objective measurements show that the mean total sleep time per night during sleep extension was 110.9 minutes longer than at baseline. Indices of athletic performance specific to basketball were measured after every practice to assess changes in performance. Speed during 282-foot sprints improved significantly from 16.2 seconds at baseline to 15.5 seconds after sleep extension, and shooting accuracy increased significantly by nine percent on both free throws and three-point field goals. Subjects also reported improved overall ratings of physical and mental well-being during practices and games.
"Following multiple weeks of sleep extension, elite athletes demonstrated improvements in specific indicators of basketball athletic performance including higher shooting percentages and faster sprint times," said lead author Cheri D. Mah, MS, researcher at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory in Stanford, Calif. "Subjects also demonstrated faster reaction time, decreased levels of daytime sleepiness, and mood improvements."
"It was interesting to note that sleep extension significantly improved different measures of physical performance in basketball from shooting percentages to sprinting times," she said.
According to Mah, an athlete's nightly sleep requirement should be considered integral to attaining peak performance in all levels of sports. She offered these tips to help athletes improve their performance by maximizing their sleep:
- · Prioritize sleep as 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 nine 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 20-30 minute naps to obtain additional sleep during the day, especially if drowsy.