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Sleepy Pro Athletes May Have Shorter Careers

TUESDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- Excessive daytime sleepiness can affect the careers of professional football and baseball players, according to new research.

In one study, researchers looked at 55 randomly selected college football players who made it to the National Football League and found that only 38 percent of sleepy athletes stayed with the team that originally drafted them, compared with 56 percent of less sleepy players.

Another study of 40 baseball players found that those with higher levels of daytime sleepiness had rates of leaving their team between 57 percent and 86 percent, which is much higher than the Major League Baseball average of 30 percent to 35 percent.

The studies were presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in Boston.

"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," principal investigator Dr. W. Christopher Winter, of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center and CNSM Consulting in Charlottesville, Va., said in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release.

"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," Winter added.

Measuring a player's daytime sleepiness could do more for team officials than help them decide whom to draft, the experts noted.

"Addressing sleepiness in players and correcting the underlying issues causing sleepiness may help to prolong a player's career," Winter said.

The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about daytime drowsiness.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, June 12, 2012

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