Dr. Cheri Mah, of the University of California San Francisco, who is a sleep consultant for all major American professional sports, did a study on the effects of sleep and athletic performance about ten years ago.
The original study was with collegiate basketball players. Her research showed how players who went from 6.5 to 8 hours of sleep per night made large improvements in their performance.
The statistics were pretty staggering: a 5% increase in speed, 9% increase in free throw percentage, and 9.2% increase in three-point percentage. These improvements happened in two months.
In her research with other athletes, she found everything from football and baseball players having better reaction times, to tennis players having better first serve percentages.
Her work concludes that athletes need 8-10 hours of sleep!
And not just athletes. Lack of sleep is an epidemic in industrialized nations and is a precursor to everything from type II diabetes, to cardiovascular disease to anxiety and depression.
Sleep is a low hanging fruit. It's not something most of us have to work hard for. It's something we just need to commit to doing.
While athletes need to commit to 8-10 hours of sleep, adults should commit to at least 8 for health and performance reasons.
Whether you are an athlete or someone who wants to perform at a high level in life, your health is where it all starts.
And health begins with getting plenty of quality sleep.
Don't take this for granted, it could, right now, be your greatest limiting factor.