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How much sleep should you get?


-By Scott Leitch

In the headlines recently has been a note that, when it comes to time spent sleeping, less may actually be better for you.  A commonly tossed around number for how long a healthy adult should be sleeping has, for a long time, been in the range of eight hours per night, but new research suggests that number should maybe be skewed an hour shorter. Reported by the Wall Street Journal, researchers found that those who only slept about seven hours each night tended to live longer lives.

Still, the recent headline-grabbing number didn’t take into account a different, and also recent, look at how sleep affected elite athletes. Over the past two seasons the Stanford men’s basketball team took part in a study that saw them sleep ten hours per night during their season. The team saw better sprint and reaction times, reported better mood and alertness, and hit more free throw and three-pointers. The study was limited by the small size of collegiate basketball teams, but the results were pronounced.

Most muscle repair and building happens while you’re sleeping and growth hormone is released, so it’s not surprising that a highly active individual, training and breaking down muscle tissue, needs more sleep than the average individual. The basketball players reported about ten hours per night, but actigraphy results clocked them at an average around nine hours, still much above the recommended seven to eight.

The six or seven hour suggestion may well apply to the average population, but if you’re a healthy and regularly active individual, research seems to suggest sleeping more isn’t a bad thing if it’s because you need more time to repair damaged muscles. Your body is very good at telling you how long it needs. You will wake up when filly rested.

If you’re training regularly, make sure you’re getting a full nights sleep, and that will vary from person to person depending on a number of factors. You’re body will thank you with good health and performance gains.