Sleep, travel, and recovery responses of national footballers during and after long-haul international air travel

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2016, 11 (1), pp. 86 - 95
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc. Purpose: The current study examined the sleep, travel, and recovery responses of elite footballers during and after long-haul international air travel, with a further description of these responses over the ensuing competitive tour (including 2 matches). Methods: In an observational design, 15 elite male football players undertook 18 h of predominantly westward international air travel from the United Kingdom to South America (-4-h time-zone shift) for a 10-d tour. Objective sleep parameters, external and internal training loads, subjective player match performance, technical match data, and perceptual jet-lag and recovery measures were collected. Results: Significant differences were evident between outbound travel and recovery night 1 (night of arrival; P <.001) for sleep duration. Sleep efficiency was also significantly reduced during outbound travel compared with recovery nights 1 (P =.001) and 2 (P =.004). Furthermore, both match nights (5 and 10), showed significantly less sleep than nonmatch nights 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 (all P <.001). No significant differences were evident between baseline and any time point for all perceptual measures of jet-lag and recovery (P >.05), although large effects were evident for jet-lag on d 2 (2 d after arrival). Conclusions: Sleep duration is truncated during long-haul international travel with a 4-h time-zone delay and after night matches in elite footballers. However, this lost sleep appeared to have a limited effect on perceptual recovery, which may be explained by a westbound flight and a relatively small change in time zones, in addition to the significant increase in sleep duration on the night of arrival after the long-haul flight.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: