Planners may want to rethink the time of day that they schedule their critical meetings after considering the results of a Hilton Hotels & Resorts study. The study compared business travelers' actual performance to perceived performance while on the road.

The two-part study, which was created in conjunction with Alertness Solutions, a Cupertino, Calif.-based consulting firm, included a 58-question, Web-based survey that involved 3,500 respondents as well as a two-month study of 25 frequent travelers who collected behavioral and physiological data during their business trips.

For the latter, participants wore wrist actigraphs that measured activity levels as well as sleep quality and quantity. In addition, they carried PDAs that captured details about their productivity, moods, and habits.

Among the results of the study:

  • participants perform best during midday, not early morning, which is considered by most to be the most productive part of the day;

  • participants typically get only five hours of sleep the night before a business trip;

  • participants' best night of sleep is the first night in a hotel;

  • participants tend to get one hour less sleep a day than they think they do;

  • participants who exercised during their trip performed 61 percent better on reaction and alertness tests than those who did not exercise;

  • participants drink 14 percent more caffeine while on a trip than at home.