YOURSELF FIT

SLEEP AND SPORT It’s not just the footballers at Real Madrid who adhere to strict sleep patterns to boost their performance. Tennis star Roger Federer is reported to need 11-12 hours a night in order to ˜feel right’, Alpine Ski racer Lindsey Vonn claims to love her sleep, while sprinter Usain Bolt also values his shut-eye. ˜Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body,’ he’s been quoted as saying.

From football to athletics and everything in between, sleep affects all disciplines and aspects of sports performance. Not only does a good sleep pattern provide 17 per cent improvement in reaction time off the starting block with swimmers, according to the journal Sleep, but tennis players had a 42 per cent boost in hitting accuracy during training drills after a good night’s shut-eye. Stanford University also found that basketball players who got more sleep were nine per cent more on target with their shots. More recently, a study by Bensons for Beds (bensonsforbeds.co.uk)

Main Photography: Getty. Image of Becky, Craig Sugden (craigsugden.com) revealed the dramatic physical performance benefits of adding two hours of sleep. Participants found that, after increasing their sleep from seven to nine hours, they could withstand a third more pain, their speed increased by 15 per cent and reaction times were 12 per cent faster.

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