Understanding that fatigue is the major cause of human error and that it takes the body’s biological clock one day to adjust for each time zone traveled, I developed this reference sheet to help professional baseball players and staff transition faster to and from road trips from the Eastern to Western (3-hour difference) and Mountain (2-hour difference) time zones. Practical experience and clinical research indicate that the human body performs best between the 6:00 to 9:00 pm period of its normal biological clock. The following information should help provide faster transitions to new time zones and reduce the risk of mental and physical fatigue during games.
Traveling East to West (to Colorado, California and Washington)
Phase Delay Tips:
1. Stay up later than normal so your body will sleep in longer (but still get up in time to eat). If you go to bed at mid-night in Pittsburgh, go to bed at mid-night on the West Coast.
2. Take a nap before you go to the ball park.
a. Nap for 15-20 min if you are able to sleep in later than usual.
b. Nap for 90 min if you wake up at your normal EST time.
Manage your Environment for Sleep Comfort
1. Light: Make room as dark as possible, wear sleep blinders/mask.
2. Noise: Use ear plugs, place a towel under the door, silence your cell phone, and/or use fan/air filter.
3. Temperature: Cooler temperatures (65-68 degrees) are best for sleep. Use a fan for air flow and blankets if you need to get warmer.
4. Bedding: Make sure your room has a comfortable mattress with proper support and travel with your pillow from home.
Traveling West to East (from Colorado, California and Washington)
Phase Advance Tips:
1. Method #1
a. Nap for 2-3 hours after the “red-eye” flight home.
b. Don’t sleep too long or else it will be difficult to sleep later that night.
c. Get exposure to bright light during the day.
d. Plan light activities for the afternoon.
e. Try to go to bed around your normal bedtime.
2. Method #2
a. Try to stay awake all day and retire at your normal bedtime.
b. Eat breakfast to provide energy for the day.
c. Avoid both overly strenuous and overly sedentary activities.
d. Minimize driving if you can.
e. Take 10-20 minute naps if you are feeling overly tired during the day.
Manage the amount of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and other substances that can negatively impact sleep
Frank Velasquez, ATC, RSCC, is the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator and Co-Owner at VELSA 360 Sports Performance and Physical Therapy in Cranberry Township, PA. (VESLA360.com) Frank was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2003-2011 and Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the Texas Rangers from 2000-2002 (as well as a minor league athletic trainer for the Texas Rangers from 1996-1999).