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Baseball Teams Strike Out When Jet-Lagged
Date:6/10/2008

Cross-country travel, especially east to west, takes a toll on pros, study says

TUESDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that jet lag hampers the performances of continent-crossing pro baseball players but may boost the home field advantage of West Coast teams.

An analysis of 10 years of pro baseball scores found that teams were more likely to lose games if they were severely jet-lagged. The effect, however, wears off after a few days, and only a small number of games seemed to be affected.

Still, a lost game or two can make a huge difference in a season, said study lead author Dr. W. Christopher Winter. "There's clearly an advantage to being acclimated to your time zone, and you may be at a higher advantage in terms of winning games if you're living on the West Coast."

Winter, medical director of the Sleep Medicine Center at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va., had earlier studied games during the 2004 baseball season and found that jet lag hurt the performance of teams.

For the new study, Winter and his colleagues analyzed the scores of 24,133 baseball games with an eye toward how many time zones the teams had traveled through. It takes a day for a person's body to adjust to travel through a single time zone, he said.

Teams lost 60 percent of games in which they were at what the researchers called a three-hour disadvantage, meaning they needed three days for their bodies to catch up to their new location. They lost 52 percent of games in which they were at a one- or two-hour disadvantage.

The findings of the study, with funding from Major League Baseball, were to be released Tuesday at Sleep 2008, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in Baltimore.

But if you're thinking the study might explain why your favorite team is playing poorly this season, think again. Players only rarely have to play games right aft
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