Yes, sleep is good
A new Stanford University study asked five members of the women’s tennis team to extend their sleep times to 10 hours a night, and monitored the changes in athletic performance:
Results of the study indicated that sleep extension in athletes was associated with a faster sprinting drill (approximately 19.12 seconds at baseline versus 17.56 seconds at end of sleep extension), increased hitting accuracy including valid serves (12.6 serves compared to 15.61 serves), and hitting depth drill (10.85 hits versus 15.45 hits).
This is not earth-shattering news. Cheri Mah, the researcher involved, presented similar results on swimmers in 2008, and on basketball players in 2007. I also wrote a Jockology column about this research last summer.
Still, even though we all know about the benefits of sleep, that knowledge is usually a sort of abstract idea that “sleep is good” — so it’s interesting to see the benefits quantified (albeit not very rigorously). And it’s also interesting to see that the goal sleep time for hard-training athletes was 10 hours, a lot more than the eight hours most of us wish we could find time for.