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You can build up a “sleep bank”

26-Jan-17

Last updated: 09-Nov-18

By Alice Morrison

A new study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine has shown that if you sleep for extra hours before taking on a challenge that does not let you sleep your performance will be improved. It’s called sleep extension and it effectively means that ‘Storing sleep’ (which means sleeping a little extra and creating a sleep bank) before pulling an all-nighter may improve your physical performance and cognitive function.

The study was carried out by the University of Calgary in Canada led by Guillaume Millet.

For some of us, there are many occasions when we need to be even more sleep deprived for a short period of time. We wanted to see what would happen if people could sleep more and benefit later,” said Millet.

The subjects were 12 healthy men, who slept the same number of hours during the week and on the weekend, suggesting they were good sleepers.

They were kept awake during 38 consecutive hours. They did cognitive tests regularly, as well as a fatigue test where they tried to maintain a given force level for as long as possible.

They then did exactly the same tasks again after being in bed for two more hours (for example, going to bed at nine PM rather than 11 PM) in the six nights before the 38 hours of sleep deprivation.

The researchers found that physical performance was improved when the duration of sleep was extended.

Although this needs to be confirmed in further studies, we believe that the longer the exercise, the more beneficial extra sleep may be -- especially in a particular sport competition where sleep deprivation is prevalent, as in ultra-endurance races where sleep can be a limiting factor,” said Millet.

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