STANFORD, Calif. Young basketball players spend hours dribbling up and down the court aspiring to NBA stardom. Now, new Stanford University School of Medicine research suggests another tactic to achieving their hoop dreams: sleep.
In a study appearing in the July issue of SLEEP, Cheri Mah, a researcher in the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, has shown that basketball players at the elite college level were able to improve their on-the-court performance by increasing their amount of total sleep time.
The study suggests that "sleep is an important factor in peak athletic performance," said first author Mah. In the paper, she and colleagues wrote that "athletes may be able to optimize training and competition outcomes by identifying strategies to maximize the benefits of sleep."
It's no secret that lack of sleep can have negative consequences. Extensive research has shown the impact that sleep debt has on cognitive function, mood and physical performance. But, as Mah and her colleagues point out in the paper, very few studies have looked at the opposite: the effect that sleep extension can have on performance. And few other groups have looked specifically at the effect of sleep on athletes.
While things such as nutrition and physical training are part of an athlete's daily regimen, Mah said competitive athletes at all levels typically do not focus on optimizing their sleep and recovery. They are usually just told to get a "good night's sleep" before a competition.
"Intuitively many players and coaches know that rest and sleep are important, but it is often the first to be sacrificed," she added. "Healthy and adequate sleep hasn't had the same focus as other areas of training for peak performance."
In 2002, Mah conducted a study on sleep extension and cognitive function in Stanford undergraduate students. By chance, several participants were collegiate swimmers and mentioned that
|Contact: Michelle Brandt|
Stanford University Medical Center