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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 17:24 EDT

Athletes Perform Better With More Sleep

June 9, 2009

Getting more sleep could be just as important to an athlete’s success as practice and strength training, according to a new study.

When members of the Stanford University’s women’s tennis team tried to get closer to 10 hours a night of sleep for a period of five to six weeks, they ran faster in sprinting drills, hit more accurately and hit deeper than they did when they maintained their usual sleep patterns, researchers found.

Many of the athletes who participated in the study realized for the first time the importance of sleep and how it impacts their performance during competitions, said lead author Cheri Mah, M.S., a researcher at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory at Stanford University.

“Traditionally, elite athletes dedicate numerous hours to daily practice, strength training and conditioning as well as work closely with nutritionists in hopes of optimizing their athletic performance,” Mah said. “While most athletes and coaching staff may believe that sleep is an important contributing factor in sports, many do not realize that optimal or peak performance can only occur when an athlete’s sleep and sleep habits are optimal.”

The study was conducted during the regular tennis season to provide data during weekly practices as well as during tournaments and competitions, researchers said.

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