How Much Sleep Does A Top Athlete Need?

While the country was lying awake at night wondering how the Black Caps would perform at the Cricket World Cup, it’s a sure bet that the players themselves were making the most of their beds.

Researchers have demonstrated that the amount of sleep an athlete has makes a direct impact on their performance and therefore sleep should be incorporated into all training schedules.

Cheri Mah, of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, published a study in 2009 in which the members of Stanford University women’s tennis team tried to increase their sleep time to 10 hours per night. Her findings revealed those who managed to get more sleep sprinted faster and were more accurate with their shots. Earlier studies by Mah showed extra sleep improved mood, alertness and performance for members of the university swim and basketball teams.

And it’s not just the universities who are making the most of this research, big money sports such as the NBA and ice hockey are turning to Harvard Medical School professor Dr Charles Czeisler – or Doctor Sleep, as he’s known – for advice on how to get the most from their elite sportsmen.

Czeisler says sleep is vital to help the body learn from training but also – and this is where it gets interesting for athletes taking part in a long, draining competition like the Cricket World Cup – just one week of sleeping five hours or less each night makes a man’s testosterone levels drop as if he’s aged about 11 years.

In other words, a 22-year-old NBA rookie will have the testosterone levels of a 33-year-old veteran if he doesn’t sleep. Testosterone fuels muscle and impacts decision-making abilities. There’s no way a player is performing at his peak when testosterone is depleted.

Getting good sleep relies on having the best equipment – just like training. It’s pointless trying to be the best if you can’t compete using top quality techniques and gear. And that’s why having a bed which suits your body is so important.

Bedpost already supports the Southern Steel netball franchiseand helped kit the players out with the latest in Tempur technology as well as custom-building a bed to fit the league’s tallest player, Jamaican international Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.

So if you want to get the edge when it comes to training – either to become a world-beater, or simply to keep healthy – starting with a new bed might just keep you ahead of the competition.