The only hitch? The timing. With events starting as early as 4 a.m. Eastern time (that’s 1 a.m. Pacific), the 200 million Americans expected to tune in for at least some of the Games could find themselves at risk for serious sleep problems. Those on the East Coast will be setting the alarm for early wake up calls to catch their favorite sports (especially 9 to 5-ers for whom this might be the only time to watch the Olympics), while those on the West Coast will be burning the midnight oil.
“We want to support our Olympians. We want to be there at 5 a.m. watching,” says Michael Decker, Ph.D., an associate professor at Georgia State University and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “But unlike Olympic athletes that are used to getting up at 5 a.m. and working out, we’re not.”
And the inevitable result will be sleep loss, which can affect daytime performance and, over the long term, our health in very profound ways.