Statistics and research have shown over time that East Coast sports teams face a disadvantage when they play on the West Coast that West Coast teams don't face when they go east.
A West Coast game that starts at 7:30 p.m. and ends three hours later doesn't adversely affect players who live in the Pacific time zone. But for the visiting players acclimated to the Eastern time zone, the game actually beings at 10:30 p.m. and ends at 1:30 a.m., when their bodies tell them that they're supposed to be sleeping. When the players from the West come East, the 7:30 p.m. start for them is, in effect, at 4:30 p.m. - still in the slot where they would be wide awake at home.
Millions of schoolchildren across the country face a similar problem. They're forced to rise extremely early each morning, when their bodies tell them they're supposed to be asleep.
Just as with the athletes, or with workers on "swing shifts," working against their own clocks inevitably affects long-term performance.
And, according to Kyla Wahlstrom of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement of the University of Minnesota, it's not simply a matter of kids getting used to it.
"It's a factor of human biology," she told the Associated Press.
Nationwide, about 40 percent of high schools begin classes before 8 a.m., according to the U.S. Department of Education, most often to accommodate the use of buses on multiple routes and after-school activity schedules. Only about 15 percent of high school nationwide begin classes after 8:30 a.m.
A small trend has begun to start classes later. The U.S. and state education departments should monitor the performance of students who get later starts to their school days to determine its impact on student achievement.