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News Link • Entertainment: Sports

Extra Sleep Boosts Basketball Players' Prowess

• Emily Singer via TechnologyReview.com
 

If you're riddled with guilt every time you hit the snooze button, a new study from Stanford should make you feel better. Varsity basketball players who tried to get 10 hours of sleep per night for five to seven weeks could sprint faster, react faster, and sink more free throws and three-pointers.

In the study, published this month in the journal Sleep, Cheri Mah, a researcher at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic asked 11 players from Stanford's varsity basketball team to try to boost their nighttime slumber by an hour or two. According to a story in the SF Gate;

The players didn't quite make it to 10 hours, but they did add more than 90 minutes of sleep time, and the results were noticeable. Collectively, they took almost a full second off of their times in 282-foot sprints on a basketball court - that's equivalent to the length of a court three times - and they improved the accuracy of both their free-throw and three-point shooting by 9 percent.

"What these findings suggest is that these athletes were operating at a sub-optimal level. They'd accumulated a sleep debt," said Mah. "It's not that they couldn't function - they were doing fine - but that they might not have been at their full potential."

The athletes wore devices on their wrists that measured time asleep, which showed that most of them overestimated their sleep time. In the first four weeks of the study, when players were asked to maintain their normal sleep schedule, they estimated they slept eight hours but averaged about 6 hours and 45 minutes. While trying to sleep 10 hours during the second part of the study, they actually achieved about 8 1/2 hours.

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