Most of us understand that getting regular physical activity will help us sleep better.  But the benefits work both ways — getting more sleep can improve your athletic performance.

An ongoing study by the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory demonstrated how important sleep is for achieving peak athletic performance.  The study included members of the Stanford men’s and women’s swim team. For two weeks the participants slept and worked out as usual. They took part in drills to measure their performance. Then they were told to extend their sleep to 10 hours a night for six to seven weeks. After increasing sleep, the athletes performed significantly better on all the drills.

The researchers at Stanford recommend athletes–and anyone looking to improve their fitness routine–do this:

  • Make sleep a part of your regular training regimen.
  • Extend nightly sleep for several weeks to reduce your sleep debt before competition.
  • Maintain a low sleep debt by obtaining a sufficient amount of nightly sleep (seven to eight hours for adults, nine or more hours for teens and young adults).
  • Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same times every day.
  • Take brief naps to obtain additional sleep during the day, especially if drowsy.

With all that healthy sleep, you’ll have the stamina to work out more! Sign up for classes at Evolution Pilates and move for your health!