Baseball Players Discover the Benefits of Sleep Loading

Baseball Players Discover the Benefits of Sleep Loading

Research has revealed that players who add at least one hour to their sleep patterns every night for consecutive nights can improve their game time performance. Researchers conducted these studies over multiple seasons with players of different levels to conclude these findings. Furthermore, the same study investigated the best pillows for sleeping and the best mattresses to extend sleeping periods.

These short, but effective, additions to a player’s sleep help them increase their response times as well as their everyday function. The study was presented at the Sleep Research Society as well as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. This study looks at both sides of the coin in terms of the impact of increasing sleep as well as not having enough sleep. The study would measure the performance of the players and their reaction times under stress for each case of sleep.

Down and Dirty with Testing

In total, nearly 20 professional baseball players took part in the study and each player participated for just over 5 weeks. Cheri Mah, from the University of California, attended the training sessions and games of the players to compile the data. Mah formed a control group as a basis for comparison to those undertaking the changes in sleep. The group who were required to sleep more had, on average, 1 hour more sleep per night. This was recorded over a 6 night period. This meant that they increased their average time of sleep from 6 hours to 7 hours.

After testing was complete and the results were in, it amazed Mah to find that players had increased their response times by nearly 15%. He used the Digit Symbol Substitution Task (DSST) to test the players, which is measured via intervention cognitive testing (before and after effects). Then the university researcher switched to the Profile of Mood States test for measuring fatigue. Again, some astonishing results were seen here with a nearly 40% drop compared to the control group.

Conclusions from the Studies

As a baseball season draws on, fatigue has a large impact on the performance of players. They lose their abilities to recognize the types of pitches being thrown their way. Mah went on to add that this sleep loading can be particularly important when the team is undergoing a high-intensity training before a season or early on in a season. However, Scott Kutscher, from the University of Stanford, said that although he found the results interesting, the conclusion is not definite. He has recently studied the issue himself and found a correlation between fatigue and a decline of player’s batting average as the season drew on.

In fact, there have been many studies of how player’s sleep, sleeping materials (e.g. pillows, mattresses, etc.) and jetlag have affected their performance during a competitive season. Jetlag, in particular, can be an issue and it has been found that (throughout a study of over 20 years) that it can negatively impact certain aspects of a player’s game.

Now, we hand it over to you, the readers, do you look at jetlag or sleep deprivation/loading when selecting your fantasy baseball teams? Is there, in fact, an impact you can see in performance? Let us know in the comments below about your thoughts on the topic.

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