How Time of Day can Impact your Winning Potential
How time of day can impact your winning potential - Your chronotype can help your sports performance.
Imagine discovering the perfect time of day to produce your optimum sports performance, enabling you to increase your chances of a win. Well, thanks to the circadian rhythm and your individual chronotype, this may become a tactic you could use to your advantage.
Throughout this article we’ll explain why and how you could increase your chance of winning at certain times of the day.
Circadian rhythms are regulated by the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN), which can influence not only your physiological performance, such as your muscle strength and flexibility, but also perceptual and cognitive aspects of performance.
Everyone has an attribute known as a “chronotype” that reflects what time of day their physical functions are active and when their biological timing is optimal for activity and sleep. Some examples of these named chronotypes are Larks, Doves and Owls which we’ll explain in more detail later on.
Circadian Rhythms & Chronotypes
So ultimately, the chronotype of each person reflects the time of day they prefer to perform daily activities according to their circadian rhythm. Whether that’s for work, sports or social.
Circadian Rhythms, Chronotypes & Sports Performance
A 2020 study by R. Lok et al., highlights how early chronotypes perform best around mid-day, intermediate chronotypes around mid-afternoon and late chronotypes in the evening. During the study they assessed whether the ability of Olympic athletes was affected by the time of day they competed. The results showed that the time-of-day effect was large and exceeded the time difference between gold and silver medal in 40% of the races.
However, shifting peak performance to better match each race time is difficult, since heats and semi-finals are often on the same day, in the morning and in the afternoon/evening. Depending on their goal, athletes could consider adjusting their circadian system so that their peak performance matches their race times.
Early Lark Chronotype’s Peak Performance Time
Similarly, tennis players may seek an advantage by playing at certain times of the day. Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova used to start her day at 6:30am and preferred to go to bed early which made her an Early Lark chronotype, with an early circadian phase making her more of a morning type. Early Larks are often out of bed really early and like to head to bed early too. Sharapova may have found her internal clock influenced her physical performance at certain times of the day and as an Early Lark her peak performance would have been during an earlier or mid-day match, if she was looking for an easier win.
Night Owl Chronotype’s Peak Performance Time
Serena Williams has won Wimbledon five times and the U.S. Open twice and it’s no wonder when she spends an average of 5 hours a day training on the court or in the gym. Williams needs quality sleep to support her recovery time so she tries to sleep by 11:30pm and starts her day around 7:30am. Although for a game day, she tells CNBC how she wakes up around 9am, heads out to the gym or court for an hour, goes back to the hotel and sleeps some more.
Serena is more of a Night Owl due to her later bedtime and later rise compared to other tennis stars like Sharapova and because of this chronotype, she’d most likely benefit from an evening match to boost her chances of a win, as that’s her chronotype's peak performance time. Although, with Serena’s track record, she’ll probably smash a win at any time of day or night!
Dove Chronotype’s Peak Performance Time
Some fortunate sports women and men possess the Dove chronotype. Studies have shown that these “inbetweener” chronotypes tend to show no difference in performance at different times of the day. This could be the perfect chronotype for tennis players and other sports players alike, due to the sporadic start times of games and matches. They can then avoid any lulls or dips in energy and instead power on through morning to night.
Once you’ve aware of your individual chronotype, you can start to delve deeper into the times of day you perform at your best. So the next time you book in a tennis match or plan a 10k run, you’ll know the time of day that you’ll perform at your peak.