An Extra Hour

June 7, 2017

Preliminary results from a study by Dr. Cheri Mah of the University of California San Francisco Human Performance Center show that an extra hour of sleep for a week had a positive effect on baseball players' reaction times, especially when dealing with distractions.

"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," Mah said.

According to Science Daily, the results showed that five nights of sleep extension allowed professional baseball players in a controlled training camp to do cognitive processing 13 percent faster, take 122 fewer milliseconds to respond to a cognitive processing speed test, and finish selective attention tests 66 milliseconds more quickly. Quick responses are essential when hitting fastballs, which take 400 milliseconds to travel from the pitcher to the plate.

"Fatigue over a season can negatively impact performance and possibly pitch recognition," said Mah. "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."

One of Mah's previous studies found that getting more sleep over a period of five to seven weeks allowed college basketball players to improve their performance.