Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sleep, Jet Lag and “March Madness”

The NCAA basketball tournament tips off today at 12:20 p.m. EDT. Did you finish your bracket yet?

President Obama completed
his bracket early. Surprisingly, he was extremely “conservative” with his picks.

His Elite Eight includes all four of the number-one seeds and three of the number-two seeds. His only sleeper? Third-seeded
Syracuse over second-seeded Oklahoma.

If you’re still finalizing your bracket, one thing to keep in mind is
jet lag. Some teams have to travel a long way to play their first game.

One example is
UCLA. The Bruins have to cross three time zones to play upset-minded Virginia Commonwealth in Philadelphia, Pa., tonight.

The good news for UCLA is that the game won’t start until almost 10 p.m. EDT. They’ll be playing when their body clocks are set at a West-Coast time of 7 p.m. So it will feel like a normal tip-off time for the Bruins.

It’s the earlier, 12:30 p.m. EDT start times that can be more difficult for some players.
Cal State Northridge and BYU both must cross two time zones to play opening-round games today. It will feel like a 10:30 a.m. start for the players on both teams.

Cal State Northridge plays
Memphis in Kansas City, Mo. BYU plays Texas A&M in Philadelphia.

But can sleep really have an effect on a basketball game?

Just ask Cheri Mah of the
Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory. She has studied how sleep affects players on many of the Stanford sports teams.

One study involved six players on the men’s basketball team. Performance measures such as sprint times and free-throw shooting improved after extra sleep. So did ratings of mood and alertness.

“Sleep is a significant factor in achieving peak athletic performance,” said Mah. “Athletes across all sports can greatly benefit from extra sleep and gain the additional competitive edge to perform at their highest level.”

So sleep may be one factor that adds to the madness of this year’s tournament.

White House Photo, 3/17/09, Pete Souza


AASM said...

BYU came out sluggish, falling behind early and hitting only 38 percent of their shots in a 79 - 66 loss.

In contrast, Cal State Northridge showed no early signs of jet lag. They pushed Memphis hard and trailed by only four points with 2:30 left in the game. But Memphis pulled away late for an 81 - 70 win.

AASM said...

Maybe the coast-to-coast flight did bother the sixth-seeded Bruins. They had to scratch and claw their way to a 65-64 win as 11th-seeded VCU missed a potential game winner at the buzzer.

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