Studies keep coming out that emphasize getting great sleep will benefit your weight, brain, muscles, heart, and more. New research presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies has shown that sleep quality can also affect the performance of professional baseball players.
Researchers followed 17 pro ball players during a four-week training camp after they did a two-day investigation into their sleep habits to establish a baseline. They then were randomly assigned to a group that had five nights of increased sleep (raised by 0.6 hours per night from 6.3 to 6.9 hours) or one that simply continued their normal sleep schedule. When the sleep extension group took cognitive, mood, and daytime sleepiness tests, they showed a decrease in fatigue, tension, and daytime weariness by more than a third compared to those on their regular sleep schedule.
"Our research indicates that short-term sleep extension of one additional hour for five days demonstrated benefits on athletes' visual search abilities to quickly respond when faced with distractors," said lead author Cheri D. Mah, research fellow at the University of California San Francisco Human Performance Center. "Fatigue over a season can negatively impact performance and possibly pitch recognition. These findings suggest that short-term sleep-loading during periods of high training volumes may be a practical recovery strategy and fatigue countermeasure that has daytime performance benefits."