The 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) season was a study in pure athletic prowess. Players broke the 2000 record for the number of home runs in a single season, and teams racked up enviable winning streaks. As players shift gears to the highly competitive postseason playoffs, maximizing performance, avoiding injuries, and maintaining endurance will be essential for bringing home the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Rajkumar Dasgupta, MD, specializes in pulmonology, critical care and sleep medicine at Keck Medicine of USC, says in a release, “Sleep, along with physical conditioning and conscious eating, plays a major role in athletic performance and competitive results. A 2009 study in the journal Sleep confirms the role of sleep in performance: The study found that sleep deprivation negatively affected split-second, or ‘gut-feeling’ decision-making, while adequate sleep improved it.

“Sleep has gained a lot of attention in the sports world, and teams from all sports are finding ways to help players improve their athletic performance with sleep. Earlier this year, a soundproof ‘sleep room,’ featuring pillows that have been customized to each player, was installed in Fenway Park after the team consulted with a sleep specialist. Other teams are turning to wearable technology to monitor the sleep and health of their athletes. By providing information the players can visualize, wearable technology has the potential to encourage better sleep habits. Professional teams are also emphasizing the use of strategic napping and the importance of sleeping well after a game, practice or other training event to enhance muscle recovery.

“The quality and amount of sleep athletes get is often the key to winning. A good sleep plan for professional athletes will maximize accuracy, improve reaction time and decision-making, increase speed and alertness, and prolong the amount of time it takes to reach exhaustion.”