Dear Student Athletes: It’s Time To Learn About Sleep
With Major League Baseball in full swing, the NBA and NHL playoffs kicking into high gear, and the UEFA Champions League final right around the corner – life is good for us sports fans. But have you ever stopped to wonder how professional athletes, such as the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala, perform at the most competitive level day after day? The answer is sleep.
Look no further than The Windy City. Last year’s team to beat, the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs are now struggling to stay above .500. It’s not injuries or the salary cap causing this slump. It’s sleep deprivation, according to Cubs manager Joe Maddon. After all, sleep is the secret weapon of athletes – especially those at the collegiate level.
The research doesn’t lie. A study conducted by Stanford University shows extended sleep duration improves athletic performance significantly. After observing the normal sleep habits of college tennis players, the study asked participants to extend their sleep to 10 hours per night. The results?
- Better hitting accuracy, including more valid serves
- Faster sprint times
- Better hitting depth drill performance
- More vigor and less fatigue
- A 23 percent boost in accuracy
These results are not specific to tennis. Stanford researchers found dramatic improvements in athletic performance among college athletes competing in several sports, including basketball, swimming, and football. Following extended sleep, athletes were faster, stronger and more accurate with quicker reaction times.
Much like the pros, collegiate athletes often encounter late night games, jet lag and injuries. But unlike professionals, student athletes must balance athletic success with academic success – making sleep increasingly important. So, student athletes, use the summer break to borrow a page from Jeremy Lin’s playbook and make improving your sleep part of your training regimen.