Sleep Improves Performance for Athletes

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Shelley Osterloh reportingResearchers have found elite athletes can improve their performance by as much as 30-percent if they improve their sleep.

Shelley Osterloh visited the Olympic Training Complex in Colorado Springs to find if what they've learned can help the rest of us get a good night's sleep.

For athletes like Apolo Ohno, every second counts, in training, competing, even sleeping.

Apolo Ohno, Olympic Gold Medalist: "For me it's crucial. If I don't sleep well, I feel horrible. Kind of the big thing now in training of high performance athletes is that you can only train as fast as you can recover... and sleep is one of the only pure forms when your body gets to shut down and regenerate."

Sleep experts say getting just two hours less sleep than needed is nearly the same as having too much to drink and legally drive.

Dr. Mark Rosekind/ Sleep Consultant for Hilton Hotels: "This twin bed has got to be increased so they have a full size bed. And we are going to add box springs to give them more comfort as well. Another really important physical factor to control as well, is light."

Dr. Mark Rosekind evaluated the old style dorm rooms for Hilton Hotels --- one of the Olympic sponsors. He says too much light streaming in makes it hard to nap and is especially difficult for athletes adjusting to different time zones.

And he says, keep the bed for sleeping.

Dr. Mark Rosekind/ Sleep Consultant for Hilton Hotels: "So we need to provide for them another work environment. So they will have a place to sit, work and do other mental activity in a comfortable chair away from the bed. That way when they are in their bed they are sleeping and optimizing their performance."

So Hilton is re-outfitting 160 athlete residence rooms at the Olympic Training Complex with bigger more comfortable beds.

Thick blackout curtains block the light. And they improved the alarm clock, because worrying about getting up on time can ruin sleep.

Kendra Walker, VP Hilton Hotels: "It's one of the world's easiest set clocks. They can wake up to music, pre-set their favorite station, plug into an MP3 player like an iPod or a portable cd player."

Experts say a better night's sleep can improve anyone's performance, and perhaps give American athletes a competitive edge.

Experts say you also get a better night's sleep in cool temperatures, by turning down the thermostat and adding a blanket.

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