A pro athlete’s career-span depends on how tired they are in the day, according to sleep researcher W. Christopher Winter, M.D., who presented two studies at SLEEP 2012. In the studies, baseball and football players were asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding their sleepiness. The researchers found that football players were more likely to stay with their drafting NFL teams after college if they were less tired during the day. Furthermore, they found that drop-out rates for sleepier baseball players trended higher than MLB averages.

Winter, lead researcher of the studies and the sleep advisor for Men’s Health magazine, explained:

“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 sports teams.

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.”

In the football study, Winter examined 55 randomly selected college players who landed in the NFL. He found that players who were more tired only had a 38% chance of staying with the team that originally drafted them, whereas 56% of the less tired athletes were considered a “value pick” as they remained with the original team.

In the baseball study, Winter examined the sleepiness scale of 40 randomly selected baseball players. He reoprted that those who were more tired in the day had attrition rates of 57% to 86%, significantly higher than the 30-35% MLB average. (attrition rate = drop-out rate)

Baseball pitch
Levels of sleepiness may influence how long a professional baseball player’s career-span is

In an Abstract submitted at SLEEP 2012, the authors wrote:

“This data indicates a possible relationship between sleepiness of a MLB player and his longevity in the league.

Based upon this study, levels of sleepiness may provide important insight as to which players may be at risk of future declines in productivity.”

Written by Grace Rattue