AP Photo/John Raoux
The season has nearly reached its merciful conclusion. With just eight games remaining, the Orlando Magic are a few short weeks away from focusing all of their attention on the upcoming draft. Free agency will follow, then the relative quiet of the summer and early fall when the Magic will hibernate for the offseason.
With a months-long slumber on the horizon, sleep seems like an appropriate topic to write about. At last month’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, the science of snoozing made for one of the most riveting panels of the weekend.
I know, I know. Riveting? But sleep, especially as it pertains to the NBA as a whole, and the Magic in particular, is of the utmost importance, and we’re not talking about it enough in a society that lionizes those who sleep 10 hours a week — and even then, only in their offices.
Ask Dr. Charles Czeisler, the Harvard Medical school professor and former consultant to the Blazers and Celtics featured on the “Sleeping Giants” panel. Czeisler cited some rather compelling evidence for the primacy of rest:
Losing even one night of sleep significantly impairs reaction time and the ability to quickly spot visual signals. In a sport where tenths of a second are the difference between a timely defensive rotation and a dunk that ends up on SportsCenter, this stuff really matters. Lack of sleep also diminishes testosterone levels — a week of sleeping four hours a night can reduce a 25-year-old’s testosterone level to that of a 36-year-old — and increases the body’s inflammatory response.
That last line should raise all sorts of red flags for Orlando fans. This is a team that will be young for the foreseeable future, adding talent largely through the draft. It stands to reason that the Magic will target young players in free agency, too, the occasional veteran brought in for “leadership” not withstanding.