Sleep Longer to Optimize Athletic Performance

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As a competitive athlete, you are constantly trying to build strength and speed in the weight room and develop your skills on the field. Pursuing these goals is not for the faint of heart, and they require lots of dedication and hard work. Sometimes all you want to do at the end of the day is to crash onto your bed.

It turns out that catching some extra rest might be more beneficial than you think. A recent study in the journal SLEEP found that extending your normal sleep time has dramatic positive effects on performance.

Over the course of two seasons, researchers tracked the sleep patterns and corresponding performances of 11 Stanford men's basketball players. When the players extended their sleep time by an average of 110 minutes per night over several weeks, they shot a higher percentage, sprinted faster, reacted quicker and experienced less  drowsiness. Even their mood improved.

According to Cheri D. Mah, MS, a researcher at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, these benefits aren't limited to basketball players. She provides a few sleeping guidelines that all athletes can use to gain an edge over their opponents and optimize their performance.

  • Make time for extended sleep a critical part of your training
  • Extend your sleep several weeks before a big game to be at your peak
  • Sleep for at least nine hours a night to optimize your sleep patterns
  • Maintain a regular sleeping schedule
  • Take 20-30 minute naps during the day to fight drowsiness

Source:  Stone Hearth Newsletters

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