Sleep On This: More Rest Causes Huge Boosts On The Court

What if a serious basketball player was told that those 5 A.M. weightlifting sessions weren’t worth it? What if they were told it’d be a disservice to their basketball game, that maybe Allen Iverson‘s position on practice was right all along?

Researchers at Stanford found that if basketball players use that time to sleep in, maybe it’s not such a stretch.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a study with the Cardinal men’s basketball team acting as subjects showed that players were found to have improved speed, alertness and shooting percentages when increasing their slumber by a few hours.

Eleven players were in the study, and all were asked to extend their sleeping period by two-to-three hours over a five-to-seven week span. That gave them approximately 10 hours of sleep per night, according to their self-records, leading to a second off a 282-foot sprint time and an astonishing nine percent increase in combined free throw and three-point shooting.

“The issue of athletic performance probably doesn’t apply to everyone. But everyone probably underestimates the impact of sleep deprivation,” Dr. David Claman, director of the UCSF Sleep Disorders Center, told the Chronicle.

Before increasing their sleep, Cardinal players were asked to record their normal slumber habits for a four-week period and were outfitted with devices that monitored their movements, making sure their recorded times were accurate. The devices showed they slept a lot less than they admitted but that the players did increase their sleeping times dramatically.

From the Chronicle:

It’s worth noting that the players probably didn’t get as much sleep as they thought. They estimated that they got about 10 1/2 hours every night, but all of them wore devices on their wrists that measured their sleep time by monitoring their movements. According to the devices, the players averaged about 6 hours and 45 minutes of sleep during the first four weeks of the study and 8 1/2 hours during the next five to seven weeks.

In a bell curve sort of way, too much sleep can be as bad as too little, but the lesson in the research is clear: sleep, just like diet and exercise, can make a big different in a serious athlete’s performance.

What do you think? Do you think you need to get more sleep?

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