The impact of long haul travel on the sleep of elite athletes

Rónán Doherty*, Sharon Madigan, Alan Nevill, Giles Warrington, Jason Ellis

*Corresponding author for this work

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In order to manage and implement strategies to alleviate the symptoms of jet lag it is essential to assess the impact of jet lag in athletes. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of long haul eastward travel on elite athletes' (n = 7 elite national track cyclists; male n = 3, and female n = 4) sleep. The athletes’ sleep was monitored before, during and after travel using both actigraphy and self-report measures. Participants wore an activity monitor for 5 days prior to travel, during the long haul travel and 5 days upon arrival at their destination and completed a daily online sleep diary Actigraphy highlighted significant reductions in time in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency (%) due to long haul eastward travel, particularly in the 48 h after travel. Sleep diary data exhibited significant reductions in time in bed, total sleep time, sleep efficiency, sleep quality and a significant increase in fatigue going to bed as a result of long haul eastward travel. In order to facilitate the development of interventions to reduce the symptoms and severity of jet lag objective and subjective assessments of sleep should be coupled with assessments of chronotype and perceived sleep need.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100102
Number of pages8
JournalNeurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms
Early online date20 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

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