Effects of long-haul transmeridian travel on subjective jet-lag and self-reported sleep and upper respiratory symptoms in professional rugby league players

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2016, 11 (7), pp. 876 - 884
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© 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc. Purpose: To examine the effects of 24-h travel west across 11 time zones on subjective jet-lag and wellness responses together with self-reported sleep and upper respiratory symptoms in 18 professional rugby league players. Methods: Measures were obtained 1 or 2 d before (pretravel) and 2, 6, and 8 d after travel (post-2, post-6, and post-8) from Australia to the United Kingdom (UK) for the 2015 World Club Series. Results: Compared with pretravel, subjective jet-lag remained signifcantly elevated on post-8 (3.1 ± 2.3, P <.05, d > 0.90), although it was greatest on post-2 (4.1 ± 1.4). Self-reported sleep-onset times were signifcantly earlier on post-2 than at all other time points (P <.05, d > 0.90), and large effect sizes suggested that wake times were earlier on post-2 than on post-6 and post-8 (d > 0.90). Although signifcantly more upper respiratory symptoms were reported on post-6 than at pretravel (P <.05, d < 0.90), no incidence of injury and negligible changes in wellness and muscle strength and range of motion (P >.05, d < 0.90) were evident after travel. Conclusions: Results suggest that westward long-haul travel between Australia and the UK exacerbates subjective jet-lag and sleep responses, along with upper respiratory symptoms, in professional rugby league players. Of note, the increase in self-reported upper respiratory symptoms is a reminder that the demands of long-haul travel may be an additional concern in jet-lag for traveling athletes. However, due to the lack of sport-specifc performance measures, it is still unclear whether international travel interferes with training to the extent that subsequent competition performance is impaired.
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