Roger S. Smith DO; Bradley Efron, PhD; Cheri D. Mah, MS; Atul Malhotra, MD

Objective: We hypothesized that professional football teams would perform better than anticipated during games occurring close to their circadian peak in performance.

Results: The results were strongly in favor of the west coast teams during evening games against east coast teams, with the west coast teams beating the point spread about twice as often (t = 3.95, P < 0.0001) as east coast teams. For similar daytime game match-ups, we observed no such advantage.

Conclusions: Sleep and circadian physiology have profound effects on human function including the performance of elite athletes. Professional football players playing close to the circadian peak in performance demonstrate a significant athletic advantage over those who are playing at other times. Application of this knowledge is likely to enhance human performance.

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