What if I told you there was a strategy you could implement right now that could increase both the strength and speed of your memorization and skill development by 20%-40% every day? What if, in addition, this same strategy could help you reduce bad practice habits and decrease injury recovery time? And finally, what if I told you this strategy didn’t necessarily require any extra work? Would you do it? (Depends on what it is, right?)
😴 SLEEP! 😴
(Anticlimactic. I know.)
Hear me out for a second. According to research, 1 in 3 adults get less than 7 hours of sleep per night and many feel "fine" with this amount. Unfortunately, 60 years of validated scientific research on sleep suggest that most people do not fare well cognitively with less than 7 hours of sleep over time despite how "good" they feel (e.g., 4). Naturally, there are exceptions but those are few and far between according to the scientific literature. A large majority of us need between 7-9 hours of sleep for optimal cognitive function.
With regard to motor skill development, the latest research shows that the final two hours in a 7-9-hr sleep cycle are the most important for consolidating recently learned skills. Unfortunately, these are the exact last two hours that most of us cut short.
Research also shows that the more information we learn, the more important sleep becomes. If we cheat ourselves on sleep time much of our newly learned information gets forgotten literally overnight.
After learning all of this information, I have really made it a priority to get 7-9 hrs. of sleep as consistently as possible -- although I completely understand that it's not always possible for all of us.
So...as often as you are able, please do your best to get 7-9 hrs of sleep. As incredible as it sounds, a full night's sleep (for most of us without superpowers) significantly strengthens our ability to learn new information and improve motor skills by 18-40% overnight! Check out my book recommendation on sleep for more information on this topic and to find out other ways sleep can help you learn, improve, and feel healthier.