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Expert argues that for athletes, "sleep could mean the difference between winning and losing"

Boston CelticsGoodnight Butler Bulldogs, goodnight Boston Celtics. A recent article in the Boston Globe spotlights ways coaches of elite basketball teams are turning to scientific research on sleep to improve players' performance on the court.

As outlined in the piece, Brad Stevens enlisted the help of Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory researcher Cheri Mah to help his Bulldogs play their best during a challenging travel schedule when he was their head coach. Charles Czeisler, MD, PhD, chief of the division of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and director of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, has advised the Celtics on planning sleep for optimal results. And sleep influences more than stamina, coordination and muscular power: Czeisler points out that lack of sleep can lead to delayed reaction times, loss of control over emotions, and impaired consolidation of memories - all of which matter when playing ball.

From the article:

The optimal amount of sleep for an average person varies, but Mah and Czeisler each said it is around eight hours — though NBA players might need at least nine.

Many NBA players take pregame naps — Miami’s LeBron James and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant swear by them — and Mah and Czeisler said that naps are a good power boost that can last for a few hours, but naps and caffeine can’t replace a night of proper sleep.

“It won’t turn a couch potato into an NBA player,” Czeisler said, “but if you’re looking for a potential advantage, sleep could mean the difference between winning and losing.”

Previously: Ask Stanford Med: Cheri Mah responds to questions on sleep and athletic performanceA slam dunk for sleep: Study shows benefits of slumber on athletic performance and Want to be like Mike? Take a nap on game day

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