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The Power of Sleep – Part 3 Sleep and Performance

Having explored some of the general benefits of sleep and tips on improving sleep quality (see blogs The Power of Sleep – Part 1 and 2) we will now look at the importance of sleep in our athletic population.

A study by Milewski and colleagues in 2014 showed that adolescent athletes who slept less than 8 hours on average were 1.7 times more likely to sustain an injury than those who managed 8 or more hours of slumber. It is exciting to think that something that is seemingly simple and effortless like sleep could contribute to injury prevention and therefore increase the longevity of an athlete.

Beyond injury prevention and recovery sleep can also enhance performance by increasing speed and accuracy. An example of this comes from the National Basketball Association (NBA), where data tracking the sleep of Golden State Warriors star Andre Iguodala clearly demonstrates significant differences in performance based on the amount of sleep he obtains. The figures below show performance data of Andre Iguodala when he obtains more than 8 hours of sleep compared to less than 8 hours of sleep.


>8 hours <8 hours
↑ +12% increase in minutes played

↑ +29% increase in points/minutes

↑ +2% increase in three-point percentage

↑ +9% increase in free-throw percentage

↓ +37% increase in turnovers

↓ +45% increase in fouls committed

You’d be hard press to argue the fact that sleep quality and quantity is possibly one of the most important aspects of an athlete’s performance, preparation and recovery. Not only does it assist an athlete to compete at their best through enhanced performance via speed and accuracy it also enhances recovery and quite possibly contributes to injury prevention.

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