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July 17, 1996

Biological Clock May Be as Crucial as Stopwatch in Deciding Athletic Contests

Author Affiliations

JAMA contributor

JAMA. 1996;276(3):180-181. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540030014006

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FROM THE OLYMPICS to football games, athletes who train and compete at optimal times on their biological clocks may gain a competitive edge, suggest 2 reports presented at the joint meeting of the American Sleep Disorders Association and Sleep Research Society in Washington, DC. But such synchrony, the reports imply, is not widely practiced.

Roger Smith, DO, a clinical and research fellow in the Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Center at Stanford (Calif) University School of Medicine, and his colleagues queried 16 US Olympic athletes and 12 Division I NCAA athletes to learn when they believed they performed best and when they trained and competed. The 10 men and 18 women included runners, swimmers, basketball players, and participants in other sports.

More than 60% said they were at their peak in the afternoon, most often between 3 PM and 6 PM. Slightly more than 20% said they were in top