It's been a busy couple of weeks here at Core Advantage.
I wouldn't say I'm sleep-deprived, I feel great. But in the last four nights, I've gone from my normal eight plus hours of sleep down to the seven to eight mark. Which is still plenty, I know, and I know a lot of athletes function on less than that every single night.
I'm just trying to comprehend how the hell they do it.
The research on sleep deprivation and its effect on performance is overwhelming. In one study, sleep deprivation of 17 to 19 hours reduced reaction time more than having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.5.
Being sleep-deprived is like being drunk.
My favourite study on sleep, though, comes out of Stanford in the States where they used 11 college-level basketballers and showed that sleep enhancement up to 10 hours improve free-throw shooting by 9% and three-point shooting by 9.2%. That same study showed that sleep enhancement improves speed, reaction time, and power.
Plus, that study also showed that athletes felt fresher and generally more awesome.
Another study out of California showed that athletes who slept less than eight hours were 170% more likely to get injured than those who slept more than eight hours.
Another study found that sleep deprivation inhibited the muscle's ability to store glycogen. This meant they're fatigued faster when it came to repeat sprints, and it hurt more.
Sleep deprivation even increases your chances of gaining weight. Sleep deprivation increases your production of a hormone called ghrelin which makes you crave energy-dense foods like carbs and fats. Combine that with low energy levels and a low willpower, it makes it a recipe for disaster.
"If you told an athlete you had a treatment that would reduce the chemicals associated with stress, that would naturally increase human growth hormone, that enhances recovery rate, that improves performance, they would all do it.
Sleep does all those things.
- Casey Smith, Head Athletic Trainer, Dallas Mavericks