Sleep deprivation has been shown to adversely impact reaction time, accuracy, strength, vigor, endurance as well as cognitive skills such as judgement and decision making.
Research has also shown athletes are particularly susceptible to sleep deprivation because of their training schedules, travel, and jet lag. This is true regardless of the sport and whether it is a team or individual sport.
In addition to utilizing sleep hygiene and behavioral strategies for improving sleep, sleep banking has also shown benefits for reducing the negative impacts of sleep deprivation. This has been studied in basketball players (Mah et al 2011), sprinting (Waterhouse et al 2007), tennis players (Schwartz et al 2015), swimmers (Mah et al 2008), as well as other sports.
One study I found looked at ultramarathon runners competing in the Ultra-trail du Mont Blanc which takes the top runners around 20 hours to complete. This study found that the runners who increased sleep time before the race as a strategy finished with faster times (Poussel et al 2015).
What is sleep banking? It is extending sleep prior to a night of intentional sleep deprivation. Research has looked at both increasing the night time sleep period by ~2 hours per night while other studies looked at afternoon napping as a means of sleep extension. Both strategies show benefits in athletic performance measure and cognitive domains.
In my next post, I’ll talk about naps and discuss research looking at the perfect length of the afternoon nap. Any guesses?
Have you ever used sleep extension as a strategy for sleep deprivation?