Do I Really Need 8 to 10 Hours of Sleep?


Question: I usually get six hours of sleep a night. My coach says I need more and I know growth occurs during my sleep but if I feel ok do I need more sleep?

Answer: You are correct that growth does occur during R.E.M. sleep which is the time our minds and bodies are in deep sleep. Growth hormone levels increase during this time as do testosterone levels. Cortisol levels are reduced, tissue repair accelerates and our minds rest.

The typical sleep recommendation is between eight and ten hours a night and that appears to be more important than ever because of the over stimulation of our minds. Between the constant input from music, social media interaction, games, and the over use of stimulants like caffeine in soft drinks, energy drinks and coffee, our minds and bodies are often in over drive.

Researchers wanted to determine the effects of being fully rested with athletes and did a study using the Stanford basketball team. They recorded sprint performance and shooting accuracy for two weeks with the athletes sleeping six to eight hours a night. Then for a six week period they recorded their sleep patterns and required the athletes to get 10 hours of sleep a day. This included naps when the athletes were unable to get the required sleep due to travel. After the six weeks they evaluated the changes. The sprints times recorded for six to eight hours of sleep was 16.2 seconds for 282 feet, the equivalent of three basketball courts. With ten hours of sleep the time fell to 15.5 seconds. What was a more significant improvement was shooting accuracy for free throws, 9% more accurate, and three pointers, 9.2% better.

Getting nine or ten hours of sleep may seem difficult to do but add quick naps to your regimen if there is no other way. Sleep reduces the chemicals associated with stress, improves growth hormone release and improves recovery. Eat well, sleep better and reach your true athletic potential.

God bless and keep training,