When NBA Players Tweet Late at Night, They Play Worse Basketball

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A new study to be published online in the journal Sleep Health reveals that late-night social media use by NBA players is linked to poorer next-day performance on the court. The study builds on preliminary research from 2017 about players who posted late-night tweets. Researchers examined game statistics for 112 verified Twitter-using players, with a total of 37,073 tweets between 2009 and 2016. A player’s shooting percentage was 1.7 percentage points lower following a night during which he tweeted during typical sleeping hours. Late-night tweeting was also associated with approximately 1.1 fewer points scored and 0.5 fewer rebounds in the next day’s game.  Interestingly, these effects of late-night tweeting were greater during away games versus home games.

Lauren Hale, PhD, senior author and Professor of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine and Core Faculty in the Program in Public Health at Stony Brook University, says the study findings also revealed that shooting performance was affected even more with infrequent late-night tweeters compared with frequent late-night tweeters. “The reason for this finding may be that infrequent late-night tweeters could be morning types, and therefore staying up late to tweet is unusual for them and takes a higher cognitive and physical toll,” she explains.

Jason J. Jones, PhD, lead author and Assistant Professor of Sociology and member of the Institute for Advanced Computational Science at Stony Brook University, emphasized the study findings may prove that social media data sets will be a valuable source of epidemiological data related to sleep and sleep deprivation.

Jones explained, “While this study is relevant to coaches everywhere, this is not a study about either Twitter or basketball.  It’s a study about the importance of sleep for optimal daytime functioning.”

Hale concluded, “We hope that this study will encourage people to discuss the role of screen-based media in keeping us awake at night.  Perhaps this Thanksgiving, families can agree to take a break from their phones, spend time with their loved ones, and give their bodies the sufficient restorative sleep we all need.”