You usually sense how much better you feel when you get a good night of sleep, especially when you get several full nights of sleep in a row. Did you know that sleep can also improve your physical abilities?
A study published by the journal Sleep in 2011 followed the Stanford University basketball team to discover what impact extending the amount time spent asleep at night had on the player’s physical abilities. The researchers measured several physical activities performed while playing basketball, such as sprinting and shooting accuracy, during a period of 2-4 weeks. During that time the players slept for the amount of time they normally sleep every night. They also questioned the players regarding mood and general feelings of sleepiness. Then they required the players to sleep longer, spending at least 10 hours in bed every night for 5-7 weeks. Over the course of that period of time the players improved at both sprinting and accuracy in shooting. They also reported better mood and less sleepiness.
If you are training for a marathon, playing volleyball on a recreational league, or even walking your dog, you may find your performance improved when you get a healthy dose of sleep at night. Even if you don’t play competitive sports, it is possible to conclude from this study that if you sleep well, you will feel better and be more physically capable of doing the tasks your day requires. Getting a few extra hours of sleep every night can help you feel more physically fit and feel better mentally and emotionally.
Changing Your Schedule
Remember that the study was performed over a period of weeks. One extra long night of sleep after days on end of short nights will not offer a quick fix. To gain the physical benefits of sleeping well you must make a commitment to change your schedule so that you get an adequate amount of sleep on a regular basis. Unlike the college basketball players, you may not need ten hours of sleep every night to perform well, but you probably need more than seven.
Sleep is essential to staying healthy and performing well. Do you notice feeling better when you get more sleep? How do you make sleep a priority in your everyday life?