Two studies, recently presented at the SLEEP 2012 meeting in Boston, show an association between 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 W. Christopher Winter, MD, 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 had only a 38% chance of staying with the team that originally drafted them. In comparison, 56% 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% to 86%, well above the 30% to 35% 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.