The aim of this study was to quantify the impact of eastward long haul travel on diurnal variations in cortisol, psychological sensations and daily measurements of physical performance. Five elite Australian skeleton athletes undertook a long haul eastward flight from Australia to Canada (LHtravel), while seven elite Canadian skeleton athletes did not undertake any travel (NOtravel). Salivary cortisol was measured on awakening, 60 min and 120 min after awakening. Psychological sensations were measured with a questionnaire and maximal 30-m sprints were performed once per day between 09:30 - 11:00 h local time. Compared to baseline, average resting salivary cortisol decreased by 67 % immediately following long haul travel (23.43 ± 5.71 nM) in the LHtravel group (p=0.03) while no changes were found in the NOtravel group (p=0.74). There were no significant differences in 30-m sprint time between baseline and post-flight tests in the LHtravel group (p>0.05). The LHtravel group perceived themselves as ‘jet-lagged’ for up to two days post-flight (p=0.01 for both midday lunch and evening dinner). Despite a distinct phase-change in salivary cortisol rhythmicity and the athletes perceiving themselves as “jet-lagged” we observed minimal disturbances in ‘one-off’ daily maximal sprinting ability between 09:30 – 11:00 h local time in a group of elite skeleton athletes after long haul eastward travel from Australia to North America. Key Words: Circadian Dysrhythmia, Time-Zones, Elite Athletes, Salivary Cortisol
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