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
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Another new fitness band has hit the market, and this one explicitly hypes its ability to provide feedback about sleep patterns. The technology wrap-up featuring the Jawbone Up3 states “Jawbone has a new wristband that uses a relatively unusual technique to provide feedback about sleep patterns”. “The Up3 measures the wearer’s heart rate via metal-covered sensors that protrude from its underside to press against the skin. This contrasts with the approach of rivals that combine infrared and visible-light LEDs with photosensors, which are more battery-intensive.”
Also dubbed “smart watches,” these wrist bands have long tracked blood pressure and heart rate, and now the Up3 follows this trend using a technique called bioimpedance to track its owner’s pulse. “This involves passing an imperceptible electrical current through the body to measure its resistance to the effect,” writes Kelion. “The process is already used by several specialist medical devices to measure heart rate, body fat, fluid levels and other body composition readings, and has featured in a few consumer devices such as Fitbit’s Aria weight scales.”
Jawbone is reportedly pioneering its use in a mass-market wristband following the firm’s takeover of Bodymedia, a Pennsylvania-based company that had been carrying out research into the technology.
“Because bioimpedance requires significantly less power compared to optical sensors for the same level of accuracy, we can deliver a smaller form factor and longer battery life,” said Jawbone of the innovation.
According to recent story on BBC News, the Up3 will take heart rate readings when the owner wakes up to track changes
Initially, the sensors will be able to accurately measure the Up3 owner’s heart rate only while they are resting and just after they wake up, “but the company intends to extend their use with a software update to other times of the day.”
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What do we need to be a more productive and reliable worker? Seven to eight hours of shuteye each night, not an hour more nor an hour less!
A new study in the medical journal Sleep shows that workers who get seven to eight hour of sleep are likely to take fewer sick days than those who sleep fewer or more hours. In a survey of sleep habits of 3,760 men and women (aged 30 to 64) in Finland over a period of 7.2 years, researchers found a telling association between sleep disturbances and missed work.
The findings showed that sleep duration alone could act as a predictor of sickness-related absence. People getting seven to eight hours of sleep clocked an average of 9 to 10 fewer sick days per year than others. On the other hand, groups with lower or higher sleep hours recorded high numbers of sick days.
However, researchers do caution that there’s more to be learned about the relationship between sleep and work, and that there is a certain degree of individuality to sleep needs. And while the ideal style of sleep is a matter of considerable debate, the key seems to be getting enough of different types of sleep, each of which serves a different function (such as body repairs and cognitive processing).
While individual needs and sleeping styles may vary, there is an important takeaway from the Sleep study. Minimizing sleep disturbances can drastically improve performance. Researchers estimated that direct costs due to sickness absence could decrease by up to 28 percent if sleep problems were to be fully addressed. In an increasingly 24/7 world, the substantiated strength of this claim may wake businesses up to the importance of sleep.
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