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How does proper sleep help athletes perform better?

Studies of pro players in the National Football League and Major League Baseball found a link between career longevity and levels of daytime sleepiness in players. In the NFL, athletes who reported lower levels of daytime tiredness were more likely to be retained by the teams that drafted them than those who reported feeling more tired during the day. Baseball players who reported higher levels of daytime tiredness were more likely to drop out of the league than their better-rested counterparts.

A study of college basketball players found that increasing nightly sleep amounts resulted in improvements to on-court performance. The college ball players in the study -- many of whom were found to be sleep deprived at the study’s outset -- were put on an expanded sleep schedule that included a goal of 10 hours of sleep per night. (Players’ actual average nightly sleep during the study period was 8.5 hours, right in the zone of the recommended daily sleep amounts.) After 5-7 weeks on this new sleep schedule, researchers found that players had improved their running speeds, shooting accuracy, and reaction times. They also demonstrated less daytime fatigue and improved moods during practices and games.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.