Friday, June 13, 2008

A little more sleep improves concentration, performance

A little more sleep improves concentration, performance
Thursday June 12 2008 15:54 IST PTI

NEW DELHI: An extra hour in bed not only improves performance and enhances concentration, but also helps a person get rid of daytime sleepiness.

According to a study conducted by researchers at Stanford sleep disorders clinic and research laboratory on swimmers, a considerable amount of improvement was observed in their performances after their sleep hours were extended to ten hours a day.

“These results begin to elucidate the importance of sleep on athletic performance and, more specifically, how sleep is a significant factor in achieving peak athletic performance,” lead author of the lab Cheri Mah said.

During the study, the participants were made to follow their normal sleep pattern for the first two weeks and then their sleep hours were increased.

The team noted that after getting an extended sleep athletes swam a 15-meter meter sprint 0.51 seconds faster, reacted 0.15 seconds quicker off the blocks, improved turn time by 0.10 seconds and increased kick strokes by 5.0 kicks.

They also noted a decrease in tendency of sleeping during the day hours among the performers. Also, after getting a sound and complete night sleep, the sign of tiredness in the athletes disappeared and they appeared full of vigour, energy and force.

“Typically, many athletes accumulate a large sleep debt by not obtaining their individual sleep requirement each night, which can have detrimental effects on cognitive function, mood, and reaction time.

“These negative effects can be minimised or eliminated by prioritising sleep in general and, more specifically, obtaining extra sleep to reduce one's sleep debt,” Mah said.

Similar results were reported by Mah and her team earlier when they studied the effect of sleep on players of basketball, football, tennis, golf, cross country, and track and field teams at Stanford.

Hoping to extend her project to work with professional athletes who are seeking a unique competitive advantage, Mah said, “while these studies focuses specifically on collegiate, they suggest that athletes across all Sports can greatly benefit from extra sleep and gain the additional competitive edge to perform at their highest level.”

The study was presented on the first day of the ongoing three-and-a-half-day annual science meet, sleep 2008, a joint venture of the American academy of sleep medicine and the sleep research society, in which leading researchers and clinicians from the field of sleep medicine will present new findings and discuss clinical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.

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