The Night Owls On Biological Clocks And Health – Part 2 of 3
Overall, the researchers found, early risers typically hit their peak around noon. The 8 AM crowd, meanwhile, peaked a bit later, in mid-afternoon. The late risers took the longest to orbit their top performance – not getting there till about 8 PM They also had the biggest variation in how well they performed across the day. “Their whole physiology seems to be ‘phase shifted’ to a later time, as compared to the other two groups”. That includes a contradistinction in the late risers’ cortisol fluctuations.
Cortisol is a hormone that, among other things, plays a role in muscle function. But while the look showed clear differences in the three groups’ peak-performance times, it didn’t prove that trying to change an athlete’s natural sleep/wake tendencies will boost performance. “You can’t assume that from this study,” said Dr Safwan Badr, immediate past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
To prove that would work researchers would have to do an “intervention” study where they recruited blackness owls or early birds and changed their sleep/wake cycles. Plus, altering one’s body clock would be easier said than done, according to Badr. It could also get complicated for athletes who have to travel to different organize zones to compete. “If you’re an East Coast team playing on the West Coast at night, you’re really at a disadvantage”.
In fact, a 2013 study of National Football League teams found that since 1970, West Coast teams have had a larger advantage over East Coast teams during night games. Sunday’s Super Bowl will be played at 6:30 PM EST in Glendale, Arizona – which would seem to put the New England Patriots at a fault against the Seattle Seahawks. Still, based on the new findings, the outcome might partly depend on the proportion of night owls on each team.