A Moment of Science

Tips for Predicting Baseball Scores

If you’re a true sports fan, you’ve probably lost sleep wondering if jet lag affects the performance of your favorite teams.You’re not the only one.

To answer this important question, scientists analyzed three years of major league baseball games to see if they could find a link between jet lag and home field advantage. They discovered that baseball teams playing at home won over half the time. However, if the visiting team had just traveled eastward, say, from L.A. to New York, the home team scored more runs. If the visiting team had just traveled west, this didn’t affect the point spread.

These findings support other studies that show that traveling east is harder on your body than traveling west. Here’s why: Your body is tuned to what are called circadian rhythms which determine things like when you fall asleep and when you wake up. If you lived under a rock, your body’s natural cycles would be slightly longer than twenty-four hours.

However, exposure to factors like daylight, temperature, and other people fine-tunes your body’s cycles to your local time zone. When you travel, this tuning is thrown out of whack, and it takes your body time to readjust. This adjustment is easier if you’re heading west because this lengthens your day in the natural direction of your internal clock. But if you’re heading east, you’re compressing your day and working against your internal clock, which makes adjustment more difficult.

While none of this bodes well if you’re a die-hard Dodgers fan, it may be worth remembering the next time you participate in the office pool.

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