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Practical tips to manage travel fatigue and jet lag in athletes
  1. Dina Christina (Christa) Janse van Rensburg1,
  2. Peter Fowler2,
  3. Sebastien Racinais3
  1. 1Section Sports Medicine, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  2. 2School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3Research Education Centre, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital Research Department, Doha, Ad-Dawhah, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to Professor Dina Christina (Christa) Janse van Rensburg, Section Sports Medicine, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa; christa.jansevanrensburg{at}up.ac.za

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Travel forms an integral part of modern-day athletes lives. The interrelated effects of travel fatigue, jet lag and increased risk of illness, are likely to affect performance unless managed appropriately.1 Travel fatigue follows any long journey and resolve following a good night’s sleep, but can accumulate with frequent travel.2 Jet lag ensues misalignment between the internal circadian rhythms and new destination time after rapid travel across more than three time zones,2–4 resulting in sleep disruption, daytime fatigue and gastrointestinal disturbances.3 5 Sleep loss appears to be central to the detrimental impact of long-haul travel on performance.5 Additionally, circadian rhythms of numerous psychological and physiological variables with a typical early-morning nadir and late afternoon peak will be misaligned to the new destination time, which, depending on time of competition, could affect performance directly.5

Recovery from jet lag requires resynchronisation of the human circadian systems to the new light–dark cycle.2 Various peripheral rhythms resynchronise at different rates but internal desynchronisation progressively disappear as all rhythms synchronise to local time,5 probably explaining why athletes often feel worse …

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @ChristaJVR, @fowlerp85, @ephysiol

  • Contributors DC(C)JvR: manuscript (first draft), manuscript editing, infographic finalisation. PF: manuscript editing, infographic development, infographic finalisation. SR: manuscript editing, infographic finalisation.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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