8/7: Rest day – nourish your mind


8/7: Rest day – nourish your mind

It should come of no surprise that lack of sleep negatively affects our health and cognition; however, according to a recent Stanford University study, increased sleep actually equates to better performance in athletes.

New research is coming out of Stanford’s Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory showing that “basketball players at the elite college level were able to improve their on-the-court performance by increasing their amount of total sleep time.”

While this might not seem incredibly shocking, research on the effects of increased sleep have not been pursued in the same depth as lack of sleep. The Stanford study finds that while attention to nutrition and physical training receive the majority of athletes’ focus, competitors at all levels are not applying the same dedication to optimizing their sleep and recovery, typically sacrificing sleep first when deemed necessary.

Over the course of two basketball seasons, Stanford researchers studied the effects of sleep extension on 11 healthy basketball players and the resulting measures of athletic performance, also including reaction time, mood, and daytime sleepiness.

The researchers asked the players to maintain their normal nighttime schedule (sleeping for six to nine hours) for two to four weeks and then aim to sleep 10 hours each night for the next five to seven weeks. During the study period, players abstained from drinking coffee and alcohol, and they were asked to take daytime naps when travel prohibited them from reaching the 10 hours of nighttime sleep.

At the end of the sleep extension period, the players ran faster 282-foot sprints (16.2 seconds versus 15.5 seconds) than they had at baseline. Shooting accuracy during practice also improved: Free throw percentages increased by 9 percent and 3-point field goal percentage increased by 9.2 percent. Fatigue levels decreased following sleep extension, and athletes reported improved practices and games.

Moral of the story, more sleep (rest) equates to better performance.

Sunday’s at Badger CrossFit are considered a rest day. We rest because of it’s importance on the body and the mind. We should nourish this day, spend time reflecting on this past week, and prepare for the upcoming week. Rest your body, rest your mind, do what you need to do so you can start your next week fresh and rejuvenated. Sometimes “active recovery” is OK, like yoga or light jogging, biking, etc. But rest is best, in all aspects. I personally like to spend it with family and friends.