L.A. Football Teams Have a Scientific Advantage
L.A. area football fans could have even more to cheer about following UCLA's 35-14 win over USC on Saturday.
It turns out that West Coast teams have a distinct advantage over East Coast foes. Researchers at Stanford and Harvard looked at all the NFL match-ups from 1970 to 2011 and concluded that left coast squads often did better than projected.
Sleep. They looked at 106 night games involving West Coast versus East Coast teams in that time frame.
And, according to a summary:
... These night games may provide West Coast teams with an athletic advantage by allowing their players to compete at a body clock time that is closer to their athletic peak than their opponents.
The study, to be published this month in the journal Sleep, says it's in games that start after 8 p.m. EST (5 p.m. PST) that the West Coast teams have an edge.
Unfortunately for UCLA fans, the Bruins appear to be headed to a match against an Atlantic Coast Conference team in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso Dec. 31. It would start in the early afternoon, negating the advantage.
Still, the research is good news for the SoCal gridiron fan.
Athletes seem to do best in the afternoon, universally so, according to the academics. And where West Coast teams were closer to their afternoon peaks, they had that advantage.
The West Coast teams the academics analyzed beat Las Vegas point spreads by more than 5 two-thirds of the time. The quality of the teams, injuries, and home-field advantage didn't even matter, according to the research.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. M. Safwan Badr:
This study is a reminder that the body has an intricate timing system that regulates both sleep and aspects of human performance. We function best when we maintain a daily routine that promotes healthy sleep, which is critical for daytime alertness, performance and public safety.
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