Does your team play better at night?

01 Mar Does your team play better at night?

Data from a recent study suggests that National Football League (NFL) teams have better performance during night games versus afternoon games, due to advantages from circadian rhythms. The results show that winning teams had a circadian-dependent advantage of fewer turnovers during late evening games starting at 8 pm or 9 pm Eastern time, representing an upswing of circadian-regulated alertness, compared to afternoon games starting at 1 pm or 4 pm Eastern time, representing a downswing of circadian-regulated alertness.

Human performance response curves were generated based on biological time for points scored, yards gained, and the number of turnovers for each of the 32 NFL teams during the 2013 regular season. The response curves compared changes in the performance metrics relative to biological time (normalised to eastern time in the USA). A simple analysis of performance statistics plotted across an individual’s (or team’s) biological time captured daily rhythms of physical capabilities, risks for injury, and mental lapses in the real-world performance.

According to the authors, these analyses support the observation that the circadian timing system exerts significant influence on performance metrics of professional sporting teams. This is independent of talent, geography, and home field advantage.

Does your team play at night?

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