Early bird catches worm, but night owls 'win' matches

Early bird catches worm, but night owls win matches

Early Bird Catches Worm, But Night Owls \'Win\' Matches. A new study has revealed that success in big sporting events may go to late-risers.

Washington: A new study has revealed that success in big sporting events may go to late-risers.

The study from the University of Birmingham found that the performance of competition-level athletes varies over the course of the day by as much as 26 percent and people who would naturally prefer to sleep in will give their best performances hours later in the day than early birds will.

Roland Brandstaetter said that if a one percent difference in performance can make the difference between 1st place and 4th place in a 100 meter race and actually win you the gold medal at the Olympics, then imagine what a 26 percent difference in your performance could give you.

Brandstaetter added that the research takes people away from the idea of "time of day of the race" and directs them more to "internal biological time."

The best predictor of how well teams performed at a given hour was the time elapsed since their entrained awakening, that is, the time since they would have gotten up in the morning if left to their own devices, alarm clocks switched off. While an early riser may be at his or her best in the early afternoon, someone who sleeps late hits his or her peak much later at night.

The findings leave no doubt that the correct determination of an athlete's personal best performance requires consideration of circadian phenotype, performance evaluation at different times of day and analysis of performance as a function of time since entrained awakening, the researchers conclude.

Co-author Elise Facer-Childs said that obtaining a personal best performance is on everyone's agenda, but how to do it, now that is a different question.

The study is published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

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