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Sleep Impacts Player Value in Professional Sports

Data from new research looking at the impact of daytime “sleepiness” on the careers of professional athletes was recently presented at the SLEEP 2012 conference.  These data demonstrate the impact of increased daytime “sleepiness” on a players career.  Essentially this research found that athletes who experienced higher levels of daytime “sleepiness” were less likely to remain with their team after they were drafted.  Those athletes who had low levels of daytime “sleepiness” were more likely to remain with their team in the following years after they were drafted.

These findings have two important implications.  First, it may be important to consider an athlete’s sleep habits as part of the player evaluation process when considering to draft an athlete.  These findings suggest that athletes with high daytime “sleepiness” levels are more likely to not remain with that team in the coming years after being drafted, as such they are a low value.  Conversely, athletes with better sleep habits and low daytime “sleepiness” levels are a higher value pick as they are more likely to remain with their team that drafted them.  Second, the ability to quantify the level of “sleepiness” can be easily quantified using standard survey instruments.  Thus, this is an easy assessment to incorporate into player evaluations and recovery programs to ensure they are maximizing their athletic and regeneration potential.

The bottom line is that research has repeatedly demonstrated the importance of sleep on player performance and recovery.  Thus, improving sleep behaviors should be a part of an athlete’s comprehensive recovery program to maintain performance and promote regeneration.

The press release for this study is listed below:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/246502.php

“Coaches, owners and fantasy-league traders take note: Sleep researcher W. Christopher Winter, MD, has uncovered a link between a pro athlete’s longevity and the degree of sleepiness experienced in the daytime.

Winter presented two studies at SLEEP 2012 that associate the career spans of baseball and football players with their voluntary answers on a sleepiness questionnaire. The results show that less sleepy football players tended to remain with their drafting NFL teams after college. In addition, attrition rates for sleepier baseball players trended higher than MLB averages.

“A team’s ability to accurately judge a prospect or a potential trade in terms of the value they will get for that player is what makes or breaks many professional sport teams,” said Winter, principal investigator of the studies and the sleep advisor for Men’s Health magazine. “These studies demonstrate that a simple evaluation of sleepiness may be a powerful tool to add to the list of tests athletes already undergo, such as the Wonderlic Cognitive Abilities Test and the 40-yard dash.”

The football study looked at 55 randomly selected college players who landed in the NFL, finding that sleepier athletes only had a 38 percent chance of staying with the team that originally drafted them. In comparison, 56 percent of the less sleepy players were considered a “value pick” because they did stay with the original team. The baseball study analyzed the sleepiness scale of 40 randomly selected baseball players and found that players who reported higher levels of daytime sleepiness also had attrition rates of 57 percent to 86 percent, well above the 30 – 35 percent MLB average.

Winter said measuring sleepiness could do more for a team than help it decide who to draft. “Addressing sleepiness in players and correcting the underlying issues causing sleepiness may help to prolong a player’s career,” he said.

Winter and his colleagues at Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center and CNSM Consulting in Charlottesville, Va., used the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), a short questionnaire that can be helpful in detecting excessive daytime sleepiness. EDS is a common symptom of many sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea.”

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