Those rigid curfews enforced by sports coaches for decades may indeed have scientific backing. In an article entitled “Building Better Athletes with More Sleep,” The Atlantic takes the national obsession with athletic performance and applies it to sports.
“For us humans, sleep is completely crucial to proper functioning,” writes Mark McCluskey. “As we’ve all experienced, we’re simply not as adept at anything in our lives if we don’t sleep well. Without proper sleep, whether it’s a short-term or long-term deficit, there are substantial effects on mood, mental and cognitive skills, and motor abilities. When it comes to recovery from hard physical efforts, there’s simply no better treatment than sleep, and a lot of it.”
Most research on the effects of sleep on athletes has studied sleep deprivation, and McCluskey confirms that those effects are quite strong. “Just like the rest of us, athletes see a drop in their performance across all sorts of measurements if they are kept awake for the entire night, or even just interrupted in their sleep,” he writes. “But instead of focusing on the effects of a lack of sleep, it’s more interesting to explore additional sleep as an advantage. If an athlete gets more sleep than his or her competitors, will that lead to an edge? That’s just the question that Stanford researcher Cheri D. Mah set out to answer.”
The answer, found Mah, is that a bit more sleep could dramatically enhance performance.
Source: The Atlantic