Hey, Batter: How You Sleep Affects Your Game

06/14/2011 03:29 pm ET | Updated Aug 14, 2011

It takes beaucoup training to become a successful pro baseball player, not to mention a healthy dose of raw talent and grit. And now, it seems that sleep styles play a role, too: A new study suggests that whether batters are night owls or morning folks impacts their ability to score or strike out.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, sleep researcher Dr. W. Christopher Winter asked 16 MLB players to fill out a questionnaire aimed at sussing out whether they're morning people or prefer to stay up late. Participants came from seven teams: the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays.

When Winter went back in and crossed the players' answers with their batting averages from the 2009 and 2010 seasons, he found that during day games -- i.e. those starting before 2 p.m. -- the morning types had a higher batting average than their pro-evening counterparts (.267 versus .259). And the evening types had the batting average advantage in mid-day games and late games.

"These results are important as they create an entirely new way to look at athletic talent," Winter said in a press release, adding that when selecting a player for a certain game situation, "the time of day in which the game is occurring and a player's chronotype might be a wise factor to take into account."

And Dr. Alexis Colvin, an assistant professor of sports medicine and orthopedic surgeon at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York told US News and World Report that the study, though small, could have interesting implications beyond baseball.

"In tennis, sometimes they have bigger matches in the evenings," she said, whereas "football and basketball aren't really played in the mornings."

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