In looking at the relationship between sleep and performance, researchers (Mah et al., 2011) investigated the amount of sleep and performance of 11 NCAA Division I collegiate basketball players. The baseline measure of the typical sleep-wake cycles of the athletes was taken for two to four weeks, and the athletes were then encouraged to sleep as much as possible and for at least 10 hours per night.
THE RESEARCH STUDY
Daily sleep logs and journals as well as actigraphy, a method that utilizes a device worn on the subject’s wrist, assessed daily sleep-wake activity. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale measured daytime sleepiness and the Profile of Mood States examined mood states. The performance indicators were speed as determined by a timed, 282 feet sprint; free throw and three-point shooting accuracy; reaction time as measured by the Psychomotor Vigilance Task; and subjective responses of physical and mental well being. Results indicated that increases in the amount of sleep increased athletic performance. Specifically, with more sleep, the players had a faster timed sprint, improved shooting accuracy, a better mood, decreased fatigue, improved reaction time, and increased subjective ratings of physical and mental well-being.
Increased sleep appears to improve performance. Not only was the physical performance of the athletes improved, but the psychological well-being was too. The athletes were in a better mood, moved faster, felt less fatigued, and had an improved overall sense of well-being. These factors would seem to benefit not only athletic organizations, but organizations as a whole. If you were a manager, would you appreciate it if your workforce smiled a bit more and completed tasks quicker? There’s no guarantee, but it appears that burning the midnight oil may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Zizzi, S., Deaner, H., & Hirschhorn, D. (2003). The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Sleep, 34(7), 943-950.