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Snooze you win? It's true for achieving hoop dreams, says Stanford study
Date:6/30/2011

they had beaten personal swim records during the portion of the study in which they slept more than normal. A light bulb went off in Mah's head. "We had been investigating the effects of sleep extension on cognitive performance and mood, but I was now curious if sleep extension may also impact physical performance," she said.

Mah began working with sleep expert William Dement, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and they turned their attention to the men's basketball team. Over the course of two basketball seasons, Mah and colleagues worked with 11 healthy players with a goal of investigating the effects of sleep extension on specific measures of athletic performance, as well as reaction time, mood and daytime sleepiness.

The researchers asked the players to maintain their normal nighttime schedule (sleeping for six to nine hours) for two to four weeks and then aim to sleep 10 hours each night for the next five to seven weeks. During the study period, players abstained from drinking coffee and alcohol, and they were asked to take daytime naps when travel prohibited them from reaching the 10 hours of nighttime sleep.

At the end of the sleep extension period, the players ran faster 282-foot sprints (16.2 seconds versus 15.5 seconds) than they had at baseline. Shooting accuracy during practice also improved: Free throw percentages increased by 9 percent and 3-point field goal percentage increased by 9.2 percent. Fatigue levels decreased following sleep extension, and athletes reported improved practices and games.

Using a questionnaire-based sleepiness scale at the beginning of the study, Mah and her colleagues also discovered that many of the athletes had a moderate-to-high baseline level of daytime sleepiness indicating that they were carrying sleep debt accumulated from chronic sleep loss. She called this one of the most surprising aspect of the study.

"The athletes were training and competing duri
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Contact: Michelle Brandt
mbrandt@stanford.edu
650-723-0272
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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