Sports Illustrated discusses “‘circadian advantage” as a way to maximize athletic performance.
The Rockies are aware of their circadian disadvantage and try to minimize it by carefully selecting travel days. “If we had a home game, and then an off-day, and then a road city,” Cuddyer says, “we would travel after that home game and spend the whole off-day in the road city. Most teams would leave on the off-day.” Greg Feasal, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer of the Rockies, says their consultation with sleep experts prompted the club to push back Sunday home games to 2 p.m. to give players more rest. Cuddyer says this arrangement helped, but he, like many players, was often dragging by midseason.
“Our research shows that sleepy players don’t tend to stay in major league baseball as long as well-rested players,” Dr. Winter says. “You need sleep to do all kinds of things: to produce growth hormone, to fight off infections and to heal.” Winter works with a number of teams, including the Giants, who consulted him during last year’s World Series. After San Francisco lost Game 2 in Kansas City, the team took his advice and did something it had rarely done before: stayed the night in Missouri instead of catching a late flight home. The next afternoon the team flew back to San Francisco; a week later they were Series champions.