A new study from the Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports has found that professional athletes who use the virtual sleep coach, Sleeprate, achieve a longer and better quality of sleep than the general population.

The study Sleep Related Recovery in Athletes: The Role of Heart Rate Variability Parameters, published in a supplement to the journal Sleep, documented how professional athletes who used Sleeprate slept an average 417 minutes compared to a control group from the general population that slept an average 383.4 minutes.

The professional athlete sample group was pulled from a variety of sports. Sleep efficiency was calculated by dividing the total time spent asleep with the time spent in bed. Heart rate was measured throughout the night, using a heart rate sensor, which compared heart rates with sleep quality.

Anda Baharav, MD, who led the research along with the physiologists at Wingate, says previous studies have shown professional athletes typically get fewer hours and a lower quality of sleep than the general public, making these results even more important.

“This research suggests that a virtual intelligent sleep companion can help professional athletes improve their sleep as they become aware and educated of how better sleep improves their performance,” says Baharav, who is the founder of Sleeprate. “By monitoring their sleep, athletes are getting real data and insights regarding the connection between their sleep and their performance. They get a deep understanding on how changing sleep opportunities and sleep related habits improve their nights and their performance, allowing them to reach peak performance at the right time. Sports medicine and coaches can learn a lot from this new digital sleep aid for the athlete.”

Baharav says unlike the general population, professional athletes are pushing their bodies to more physical extremes, requiring more sleep for their bodies and minds to recover. This study suggests it is possible to adjust an athlete’s sleep—on an individual basis—for maximum recovery and optimal performance.

Players with the Euroleague basketball team, Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv, are among the first professional athletes to implement Sleeprate as part of their training routine. The team’s fitness and conditioning coach, Regev Fanan, says he uses the overnight data to help him determine how hard to push his players during practice.

“We can now measure how Sleeprate is helping our team’s performance, especially on the road when players are sleeping in foreign beds and going to bed later,” Fanan says. “The personalized data gives each of our player’s a customized training routine based on their previous night’s sleep.”

Phillips and Garmin have also formed partnerships with Sleeprate.