Sleeping Longer Helps Stanford Basketball Players Thrive

July 5, 2011

A recent study at Stanford University has found more evidence suggesting that sleeping longer can strikingly improve physical performance.

A recent study at Stanford University has found more evidence suggesting that sleeping longer can strikingly improve physical performance. Stanford University’s male basketball team was asked to take part in a study regarding any correlation between sleep length and performance with the results proving to be quite positive.

The researchers asked the players to maintain a typical nighttime schedule, sleeping six to nine hours, between two to four weeks before attempting to sleep for 10 hours each night over a six week period. During the study period, players stopped drinking coffee and alcohol and were asked to take daytime naps when travel prevented from getting 10 hours of nighttime sleep.

During the course of the study, researchers found that the players ran faster timed sprints; dropping their times from 16.2 seconds at the beginning of the experiment to 15.5 seconds at the end. Their shooting accuracy also increased by 9% and fatigue levels dropped. The athletes even reported better performance during competitive basketball games.

Cheri Mah, researcher at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, worked with the basketball players and noted that sleep was often overlooked. She stated that “many players and coaches know that rest and sleep are important, but it is often the first to be sacrificed.” Optimal sleep has continuously gone unrecognized by athletes even though it is a critical factor in reaching peak performance.

Mah also stressed, “The findings suggest that it is important for sleep to be prioritized over a long period of time, not just the night before match-day.” These findings were also noted to be just as important for recreational athletes as those performing at school or at a higher level.

Mah and colleagues also discovered that many of the athletes felt tired during the day due to an accumulation of sleep debt resulting from chronic sleep loss. Mah noticed that the athletes were not privy to the fact that this loss of sleep could be negatively impacting their performance. “But as soon as the season wore on and they reduced their sleep debt, many athletes testified that a focus on sleep was beneficial to their training and performance.”

Around the Web

Sleeping longer 'helps athletes reach peak performance' [BBC News Health]

Extended Sleep Improves the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players [Science Daily]

Sleeping longer is key to athletic prowess [The Health Age]