Stanford Study Finds Sleep Can Increase Your Fitness Ability

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Stanford Study Finds Sleep Can Increase Your Fitness Ability
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In one Standford study, elite college basketball players improved their athletic performance simply by sleeping more

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Written by Nancy Kirk

March 12, 2024


Want to become a better athlete? Of course, dedication and practice are essential. But scientists say there’s another method that can’t be overlooked if you want to reach your full potential:


Is Sleep the Key to Becoming a Better Athlete?  

In one Standford study, elite college basketball players improved their athletic performance simply by sleeping more. Stanford researcher Ceri Mah suggests incorporating a quality sleep routine into one's health habits to optimize training regimes and performance outcomes. 

“Players and coaches know that rest and sleep are important, but it is often the first to be sacrificed,” Mah said in a Stanford news article. “Healthy and adequate sleep hasn’t had the same focus as other areas of training for peak performance.”

Mah helped conduct another 2002 study that examined the impact of sleep on athletes. Several participants happened to be collegiate swimmers, and they told the researchers they beat their personal records during the study, which instructed them to increase their sleep. 

While they’d already been examining the impact of sleep on mental function, this revelation set off a decades-long interest in sleep's effects on physical performance. 

How Sleep Impacted Performance of a Men’s Basketball Team

Mah started working with sleep expert William Dement, MD, PhD. The pair shifted their focus toward a men’s basketball team. Throughout two basketball seasons, Mah and her team collaborated with 11 physically fit players to explore how extending sleep duration affects various aspects of athletic performance, from reaction time to attitude and drowsiness.

The researchers instructed the players to maintain their regular nighttime routine, sleeping for six to nine hours for two to four weeks. Afterward, they were asked to aim for 10 hours of sleep each night for five to seven weeks. Throughout the study, the players refrained from consuming coffee and alcohol, and they were encouraged to take daytime naps when their travel schedules prevented them from achieving the target 10-hour nighttime sleep.

With More Sleep, Players Saw Improved Performance

Following the extended sleep period, the players experienced better performance, including faster sprints. They also saw improved shooting accuracy during practice sessions, with free throw and field goals both increasing by around 9 percent. Players also reported feeling less exhausted after games and having more sustained energy levels throughout the day. 

The researchers found that many players had a moderate to high level of daytime sleepiness, which was likely due to a “sleep debt” caused by inadequate sleep. 

What Their Study Findings Mean for You

The findings suggest the importance of quality sleep over a long period instead of just the night before an important event. Prioritize quality sleep for 8 hours as part of your daily routine! 

This study has intriguing results, but it’s important to note that the sample size was small. In addition, the players’ travel schedule made sticking to a strict sleep schedule more difficult. Also, because basketball is a team sport, it was hard to look at in-depth results for each individual. Next time, the researchers may focus on more individualistic sports like swimming or track and field. Either way, there's no doubt that quality sleep positively impacts your overall health! 

Fitness Benefits of Quality Sleep 

  • Improved muscle recovery
  • Enhanced workout performance
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Increased energy levels
  • Enhanced focus during workouts
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Regulation of appetite hormones
  • Easier weight management 
  • Promotion of overall well-being

How Sleep Apnea Can Impact Your Sleep & Physical Health 

This research highlights the importance of getting tested and treated for sleep apnea. Whether or not you’re a professional athlete, untreated sleep apnea can have an incredibly harmful effect on your ability to perform physically and mentally. A lack of proper sleep can make reaching your fitness and weight goals feel impossible.

Because sleep apnea causes constant sleep interruptions due to blocked airways, it prevents you from breathing normally. This results in your average amount of sleep per night is dramatically reduced.

The scary part? 

Up to 90% of people with sleep apnea do not know they have it.

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to: 

  • Weight gain 
  • Heart disease 
  • Brain fog 
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Daytime fatigue 
  • Increased risk of severe disease 

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, we strongly recommend ordering an at-home sleep apnea test. At Lofta, we make it easier than ever to get tested for sleep apnea!

Get Tested for Sleep Apnea Today with Lofta

Our at-home process is fast and easy. An easy-to-use sleep apnea-detecting device is sent straight to your doorstep. You can take your test, speak to sleep experts about your easy-to-read sleep report, and receive treatment, all from the comfort of your home.

How the Lofta Process Works: 

  • Hop on a Quick Telemedicine Call 

  • Gone are the days of long waits and complicated procedures for sleep testing. With our telemedicine approach, all it takes is a brief video chat with a qualified sleep specialist to get started. No need to rearrange your schedule or spend hours in a waiting room. In just a few minutes, you can have your sleep test approved and be on your way to a better night's rest.

  • Your Testing Device Arrives On Your Doorstep 

  • Once approved, you'll receive our WatchPAT™ One device and an easy-to-use app. This innovative device allows you to conduct your sleep study test in the comfort of your own home. No uncomfortable wires or unfamiliar surroundings—just a simple, non-intrusive solution to assess your sleep patterns accurately.

  • Receive a Personalized Report Crafted by Sleep Experts 

  • After you complete your sleep study, a Lofta sleep expert will review your results. You will then receive a personalized sleep report detailing your sleep patterns and any potential issues identified during the test.

  • If Treatment is Needed, We’re Here Every Step of the Way

    Our dedicated team is here to answer all your questions and walk you through treatment options. We provide tailored recommendations to help improve your sleep quality and overall well-being. Plus, we’re here after treatment as well! Our #1 goal is to make sure you unlock more restful sleep so you can enjoy a healthier, more active life. 

  • Take the Step Toward Better Sleep: Order a Lofta At-Home Test Today 

    Don't let poor sleep hold you back from living your best life. Take control of your sleep health with our simple, convenient sleep testing solution. Say goodbye to restless nights and hello to rejuvenating, restorative sleep. Get started on your journey to better sleep today.

    CLICK HERE to order your at-home sleep test