STONY BROOK, N.Y. — Twitter has long been a popular soapbox for professional athletes to speak their minds or simply converse with fans, but could it damaging to their careers? A new study finds that late-night tweeting causes NBA players to perform worse on the court the next day.
Researchers at Stony Brook University examined 112 NBA players’ Twitter accounts from 2009 through 2016 and then analyzed their game-by-game statistics using Yahoo Sports. The authors specifically looked for tweets posted between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Statistics were only utilized for the study when a game occurred within the time zone that corresponds to where the player lives.
After examining the 30,000 tweets among the players, the researches determined that when players tweeted late at night, their shooting accuracy dropped by about 1.7 percent in games the next day and they averaged about 1 point less. They also took fewer shots, and recorded fewer rebounds, steals, and blocks.
The researchers point to sleep deprivation as a primary consequence of late-night tweeting, which can impact a player’s performance.
“Using late-night tweeting activity as a proxy for being up late, we interpret these data to show that basketball skills are impaired after getting less sleep,” says lead researcher Dr. Jason J. Jones, an assistant professor of sociology, in a press release by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “While experimental studies have shown the impact of sleep deprivation on performance, this study uses big data to provide interpretable results on real-world performance of basketball players.”
Players who tweeted after hours also averaged about 2 minutes of less playing time in the following game, a serious result that could have an interesting impact on team or even league rules regarding the use of social media — especially during playoffs. The researchers believe the most important takeaway is that less sleep means less productivity, no matter what your career.
“Our findings are relevant beyond just sports science research,” says study co-author Dr. Lauren Hale, Professor of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine in the Program in Public Health at Stony Brook. “Our results demonstrate a broader phenomenon: to perform at your personal best, you should get a full night of sleep.”
The study’s findings are being presented today at SLEEP 2017, the 31st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in Boston.