Catching more fly balls may come down to catching more z’s.
According to a Feb. 25 article in the Boston Globe, a 145-foot “sleep room” has been installed in Fenway Park — otherwise known as the home of the Boston Red Sox — since even the briefest nap before a game has been shown to enhance baseball players’ physical performance on the field.
In fact, the team has entered into a sponsorship agreement with the bedding company Bedgear, which will provide the eight-time World Series champions with a newly renovated room, along with “performance” sheets, blankets, and pillows for the players to snooze on at home.
“Every little edge you can get on your competition, if it’s one game or even an extra out, it matters,” Brad Pearson, the team’s head athletic trainer, told the Globe. “We’re always looking for ways to get better. This is one way.”
Over the past few years, on-site napping has become the “in” job perk for various companies around the globe, states the National Sleep Foundation. However, the modern makeover at Fenway is actually rooted in science. After analyzing the statistics from 20 seasons of Major League Baseball, researchers from Northwestern University concluded that jet lag can have a direct impact on athletes’ performance in both home and away games — from pitching to batting to stealing bases — especially when the players have traveled east.
“The consequences of not getting a good night’s sleep include fatigue, inability to concentrate and ‘stay on task,’ and being more prone to errors and accidents,” Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute, tells Yahoo Beauty.
Oexman adds that lack of sleep from either jet lag or poor sleep habits can decrease one’s ability to learn new tasks (both mental and physical) and compromise a person’s immune system, as well as increase one’s risk of chronic disease, such as heart disease.
And while taking a quick snooze may benefit the health (and wealth) of professional ball players, Oexman doesn’t feel it should become a part of the average adult’s daily routine.
“A nap is a good way to gain some of what we lost from one night of bad sleep, but it is not always better to do on a continual basis,” he states. “For most people, it is better to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis and rely on naps only when necessary.”
However, if an afternoon rest feels imperative, Oexman recommends closing your eyes sometime between noon and 2 p.m. (based on the average work schedule of approximately 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.). “This coincides with the normal dip in our circadian cycle,” he explains. “So if you nap later than this time, it may interfere with your sleep later that night.”
While most jobs do not offer the luxury of daytime napping, he suggests taking some time during your lunch break to rest in a quiet, dark space. Or if you can score some privacy in your place of employment, “try an eye mask and a white noise machine — there are several apps available that have white noise,” Oexman says.
And make sure to set an alarm. “Naps should only last 30 minutes at the longest, yet most people feel good after 10 to 15 minutes,” he explains. “After a half-hour, you may get into deeper stages of sleep, which may cause you to feel groggy upon awakening.”
A longer daytime doze can also lead to sleep disruption later that night, “which will cause you to feel more tired the next day, which will lead to a nap — and then the cycle continues.”