What Can Fitness Trackers Teach Us About the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is watched by more than 100M people in the United States every year. With three years of Jawbone UP data, we can see how people have changed their sleep patterns, usually by staying up late, to watch live sports (like the World Cup, for example). Ultimately, we can use this data to answer questions: for example, which Super Bowl was the most exciting?

UPDATE: Super Bowl 2016 – Denver Broncos 24, Carolina Panthers 10

The Denver Broncos defense contained Cam Newton in the 2016 Super Bowl, creating a few key turnovers resulting in touchdowns. The game was essentially sealed when Cam Newton fumbled in the 4th quarter (video) at 10:01pm. The contest was finished at 10:23pm Eastern Time.

Folks in Charlotte stayed up 21 minutes later than normal until 11:34pm and lost 17 minutes of sleep that night.

Super Bowl 2013 – Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31

John and Jim Harbaugh faced against each other in 2013, the first time a pair of brother head coaches met in a Super Bowl. A close game and an unusual 32-minute power outage made for a late night. The most memorable play involved the Ravens punter bleeding off the clock in an unusual safety (video). It concluded at 10:45pm Eastern Time with the Ravens beating the 49ers, 34-31.

The late game finish on the east coast led Baltimore to go to bed 49 minutes later than normal (12:20am on Sunday night) and get 47 minutes less sleep (6.1 hours of sleep) that night. For San Francisco, the game ended at 7:45pm, and they turned in 20 minutes earlier than normal at 11:08pm — after a tough loss, they just went to bed. And people loved hosting the Super Bowl in New Orleans — average bedtime was 38 minutes later than normal in The Big Easy (12:07am), losing 28 minutes of sleep that night.

Super Bowl 2014 – Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8

The Seattle Seahawks routed the Denver Broncos in the 2014 Super Bowl. A bad snap on the first play resulted in a Seahawks safety, and the Broncos weren’t able to rebound (video). The game was over by 9:55pm Eastern Time, Seahawks 43, Broncos 8. Since the game was effectively over before halftime, there was almost no impact to people’s sleep in Denver, Seattle, or New York City.

Super Bowl 2015 – New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24

The 2015 game was close, with Tom Brady leading a Patriots comeback in the 4th quarter. The Seahawks had a chance to take the lead, with 0:26 seconds left and 2nd and goal, but threw an interception in the end zone (video). New England ran out the clock and won at 10:07pm, beating the Seahawks 28-24.

Boston stayed up until 12:08am, 42 minutes later than normal to celebrate their win. Unlike Baltimore in 2013, however, they didn’t lose much sleep that night (only 4 minutes) and slept in 38 minutes later on Monday morning. The reason? Winter Storm Linus snarled the northeast, dropped 14 inches of snow in eastern Boston by Monday afternoon.

So for the Super Bowl this year, we’ll be on the lookout. North Carolina is at risk to lose sleep on Sunday night, but only if Cam Newton leads them to a championship!

Technical Notes: This study was based on thousands of UP wearers who used UP fitness trackers to understand their sleep in Baltimore, San Francisco, New Orleans, Seattle, Denver, New York, Boston, and Phoenix. All data is anonymized and presented in aggregate. Statistical significance was assessed with T-tests comparing the bedtime, waketime, and total hours of sleep distributions with average nights for that day of the week (Sundays), with p < 0.05.

Jawbone is not affiliated with the NFL, Super Bowl, or any of the teams in this post.

Oat Spectrum_UP2 by Jawbone

About The Author

Brian Wilt

Brian leads an engineering team building personalized health insights and coaching. At Jawbone, he makes data human. He coaches kids volleyball. He earned his PhD studying neuroscience and applied physics at Stanford (go Card), and before that, high-energy physics at CERN and MIT. Follow him @brianwilt.