It's the bottom of the ninth. The bases are loaded with two outs. Your favorite MLB team is pitching. Who do you want on the mound? A recent research study would indicate that you should take his sleep habits into account before answering!
The study, presented at the 24th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Society, was interested in answering just this question. The results indicate that there appear to be two big factors for that pitcher on the mound:
- Is he a morning lark or a night owl?
- Is it a day or night game?
The researchers found that pitchers who were morning types ("early birds"), as indicated on a special questionnaire, performed better than those who are "night owls" overall. In the early games, (those that began before 7 p.m.), the ERA for pitchers who were "early birds" was 3.06, while the ERA for the "night owls" was 3.49. HOWEVER, if the game was in the evening (7 p.m. or later), "night owl" pitchers were only slightly better with an ERA of 4.07, than "early bird" pitchers with an ERA of 4.15.
This research also reinforces the thought that peak physical performance is typically best for most athletes between mid-afternoon and early evening (before 7 p.m.). The study involved 18 pitchers from five MLB teams including: The LA Dodgers, NY Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, SF Giants and the Tampa Bay Rays. The researchers used data from a total of 1,573 innings pitched during the 2009 season, and were able to account for jet lag (i.e., time zone change).
So what does this mean for the Boys of Summer? Well not only does the early bird catch the worm, but he also seems to strikeout the batter!
Want to know if you are an early bird or a night owl? Check out my chart below from my book "Beauty Sleep":
I feel alert
In the early morning
In the late evening
I feel most sleepy
In the early evening
Past 11 p.m.
I enjoy waking up
6 a.m. or earlier
8 a.m. or later
I have the most energy
A few hours after waking
The last hours before bed
Whether you are an early bird or a night owl, just knowing will help you plan your days for your best performance in whatever you do.
Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep Doctor™