Extra Sleep Could Boost Athletic Performance

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Athletes may need more sleep than the rest of us if they want to up their game, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine found that members of the university's varsity men's basketball team ran faster sprints, shot baskets more accurately and had lower levels of fatigue if they got 10 or more hours of sleep at night.

In the study, published in the journal SLEEP, the study participants slept normally for two to four weeks, then tried to get a minimum of 10 hours of sleep for five to seven weeks. Their athletic performance was measured after every basketball practice.

The study size was small -- it only examined the sleep habits and performance of 11 men on the team -- but past research also suggests that extra sleep can make a difference in athletic ability.

One study, presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in 2008, showed that getting extra sleep helped college swimmers be faster, react quicker and kick stroke faster if they got 10 or more hours of sleep.

The amount of sleep needed a night depends on the person. The National Sleep Foundation says that school-age children should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, teens should get 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep a night and adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

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