Should you get more than the often recommended eight hours of sleep?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends different amounts for different age groups. The recommended amount for adults is 7-9 hours, and is higher for anyone that under 18 needs even more. Of course, they also say that this amount can vary from a number of factors.
One large study involving over a million poeple did point to 7 hours people the range that had the lowest mortality rate, compared to any other number.
The fact is that the commonly quoted 8 hours of sleep is quite variable among people. Dr. C. Norman Shealy reported, in his book Live Beyond 100, that “In the late 1700s, the average American got ten hours of sleep.”
These days we live in an electronic world that can keep us up much more than the sunrise and sundown that we use to live closer by. This leads most people today into being sleep deprived which causes many problems including hormone disregulation.
With lack of sleep your insulin and leptin go down, while cortisol and ghrelin go up. Together these hormones lead to increased appetite and cravings, while your body is less able to handle the food, besides sending it off to your fat cells to be stored.
Sleep is also the primary time when growth hormone, needed for repair of your body, takes place.
And the quality and quantity of your sleep appears to be even more crucial for athletes. You need more sleep with additional physical activity. Athletes of several types appear to perform better, in just about every way, with more sleep.
This amazing infographic contains lots of data about the importance of sleep for athletes. Here’s some of the research pointed out:
- Chronic sleep loss can lead to a 30-40% reduction in glucose metabolism.
- Tennis players were 42% more accurate during depth drills when well rested.
- Loss of sleep led to an 11% reduction in time to exhaustion.
- Sleep extension led to 17% increase in reaction time of swimmers off the starting block.
- Just two days of sleep restriction led to a three time lapse of attention and reactivity.
- Split-second decision making was better by 4.3% with quality sleep
- Maximum bench press dropped an average of 20 lbs. after four days of restricted sleep.
- 40 yard dash time in football players decreased 0.1 second with extra sleep.
- Perceived exertion increase 17-19% after 30 hours without sleep.
- Nap of 20-30 minutes increased alertness by 100%
Top athletes in many different sports report the need for 9 up to even 12 hours of sleep each day. This isn’t all at night though but may include the form of a nap.
Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall said that “Sleep is huge in my sport. Recovery is the limiting factor, not my ability to run hard. I typically sleep about eight to nine hours a night but then I make sure to schedule 90 minute ‘business meetings’—aka naps—into my day for an afternoon rest.”
This longer nap allows you to get a full sleep cycle in which can be a big boost to recovery.
Most of the data looks at what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. But what happens when this is flipped around, and the athletes are encouraged to get more sleep? Several studies have been done in this regard.
A study titled The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players showed that basketball players encouraged to get as much extra sleep as possible had faster sprint times, increased free-throw accuracy, decreased fatigue, and improve mood.
So the more sleep you get the better off you may be. The other important factor is that we can’t just look at quantity of sleep, we also must look at its quality.
Logan Christopher has been called a physical culture renaissance man for his work in training like an oldtime strongman, bodyweight skills, kettlebells and more. He is the author of several books and videos which you can find at www.LegendaryStrength.com. He is also a big proponent of supporting health and performance through the use of herbalism which you can find out more about at www.SuperManHerbs.com.