“Jet lag does impair the performance of Major League Baseball players”, Dr. Ravi Allada, the lead researcher in the study, said. But new research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that among Major League Baseball players, air travel – specifically, eastbound air travel – jet lag upsets the body’s natural rhythms enough to have a statistically significant negative impact on performance. “And the circadian clock is present in muscle cells, too, so it makes sense that one might see an impairment in muscle activity or muscle efficiency, as a result of this misalignment”.
With just eight of baseball’s 30 teams in the Mountain or Pacific time zones, jet lag doesn’t matter for most road trips. They combed through 46,535 games played between 1992 and 2011 and identified 4,919 in which at least one team was coping with at least two hours of jet lag. “(When) internal clocks are no longer in sync, you suffer some negative consequences”. As noted in the study, these comprised 87 and 72 per cent of the jet lag-induced runs. And what’s implicit in that idea concerning a domestic sport is very much true – it only takes a few hours’ time difference to throw them. So, if a team travelled from Los Angeles to New York City (cities separated by three time zones), players would still be considered jet lagged on the first and second day after travel. “People should be mindful of it, and mindful of it even when they return home”.The researchers also found that pitchers seemed to be most affected. When using this measure against the jet lag of either team, both away and home teams were affected. That may not sound like much, but it’s in the same ballpark (so to speak) as the home-field advantage, which boosted a home team’s chance of winning by 3.9%, on average.The researchers also found that the negative effects of jet lag were generally stronger when teams traveled eastward rather than westward. Surprisingly, no significant correlation was observed between jet lag and offensive stats for visiting teams (more on this weird observation in just a bit). Another possibility is that the away team may already be sufficiently impaired that the additional jet-lag effects are hard to detect. In game six, though, he gave up seven hits and five runs. They tended to give up an additional.107 (at home) or.073 (away) home runs during each game. But for Game 6, a different Kershaw turned up. The increases in home runs per game (0.107 for home teams and 0.073 for away teams) accounted for the majority (87 per cent and 72 per cent) of the extra runs allowed.”When you travel, your (internal) clock doesn’t immediately reset to the new time zone”, he said.
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Pitchers, in particular, suffered from eastward travel.”Pitching location and velocity appear to be important for determining the probability of giving up a home run relative to a swinging strike [that is, swinging at and missing a pitch in the strike zone]”, explains Allada in the study. One is that players’ schedules are more structured when they are on the road, and that might counteract some of the harms of jet lag. But that edge was obliterated when home teams that were jet-lagged from traveling eastward played teams with no apparent jet lag – an apparent result of seemingly small declines in performance. Just how that affects sports teams has always been debated.Airline travelers across the globe now how crippling jet lag can be on their bodies.As for us regular folks, it’s not immediately clear how these findings might apply to our own travel experiences.