Interesting Facts About Sleep and Sports Stars

An interesting infographic has revealed the sleep habits of some of the greatest sports stars in the world, and one thing is evident- these guys take their sleep seriously.

A full night of sleep can greatly improve our performance the next day, which is why it’s so important that these professional athletes get enough Z’s each night.

Some stars spend more time sleeping than others. Usain Bolt gets between 8 and 10 hours per night, Roger Federer gets between 11 and 12, and Lebron James, Michelle Wie and Andy Murray all get 12 hours. That’s a long time sleeping, especially when we consider that the average person gets far less than the “eight straight” recommended by most doctors.


Studies by the Centre for Sleep Sciences and Medicines in Stanford University are extremely interesting. Members of the men’s and women’s sports teams at Stanford were asked to increase their sleep to ten hours per night for a period of six to eight weeks.

The results are amazing. The swimming results showed that swimmers left the blocks 0.15 seconds quicker, added 5 kicks in stroke frequency and took .51 seconds off their 15-metre sprint time.

For tennis, the accuracy of valid serves rose from 12.6 to 15.61 and average sprint times decreased hugely, from 19.12 to 17.56.


When it came to American Football, the average 40-yard dash saw big improvements from 4.99s to 4.8s and the average 20-yard shuttle also improved from 4.71s to 4.61s.

Basketball also saw improvements, with free throw shooting accuracy improving a huge 9% and three-point shooting accuracy improving by 9.2%.

There was also an interesting study in the Current Biology journal which was examining the performance of early, intermediate and late-risers. 20 female hockey players performed 20m runs at different times of the day. Those who rose early in the day had their peak performance at 12.00, while intermediate rises peaked just before 4pm. Late risers peaked just before 8pm, which could mean that the timing of different events will effect the performance of individual athletes, teams and players, depending on their sleep cycle and when they get up in the morning.


Athletes go to extreme lengths to ensure that their sleep allows them to perform at their peak. Michael Phelps sleeps in an altitude chamber, fooling his body into thinking he’s at an altitude of between 8500 and 9000 feet. This means that his body has to work harder to deliver oxygen to his muscles, and is thought to improve endurance and benefit overall blood flow.

Usain Bolt has a 7ft long orthopaedic bed as he has pre-existing back problems and needed to be in peak shape for the 2012 Olympics.

And he’s not the only one who can find his sleep a little messed up. Serene Williams has insomnia and Shaquille O’Neal has obstructive sleep apnoea.

If you think you could benefit from a better night’s sleep, consider investing in a double mattress and make sure you’re performing at your best each day.

Sleep & Sports (final)