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Greater Effect of East versus West Travel on Jet Lag, Sleep, and Team Sport Performance


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2017 - Volume 49 - Issue 12 - p 2548–2561
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001374
Applied Sciences

Purpose This study aimed to determine the recovery timeline of sleep, subjective jet lag and fatigue, and team sport physical performance after east and west long-haul travel.

Methods Ten physically trained men underwent testing at 0900 h and 1700 h local time on four consecutive days 2 wk before outbound travel (BASE), and the first 4 d after 21 h of outbound (WEST) and return (EAST) air travel across eight time zones between Australia and Qatar. Data collection included performance (countermovement jump, 20-m sprint, and Yo-Yo intermittent recovery level 1 [YYIR1] test) and perceptual (jet lag, motivation, perceived exertion, and physical feeling) measures. In addition, sleep was measured via wrist activity monitors and self-report diaries throughout the aforementioned data collection periods.

Results Compared with the corresponding day at BASE, the reduction in YYIR1 distance after EAST was significantly different from the increase in WEST on day 1 after travel (P < 0.001). On day 2, significantly slower 20-m sprint times were detected in EAST compared with WEST (P = 0.03), with large effect sizes (ES) also indicating a greater reduction in YYIR1 distance in EAST compared with WEST (d = 1.06). Mean sleep onset and offset were significantly later and mean time in bed and sleep duration were significantly reduced across the 4 d in EAST compared with BASE and WEST (P < 0.05). Lastly, mean jet lag, fatigue, and motivation ratings across the 4 d were significantly worse in EAST compared with BASE and WEST (P < 0.05) and WEST compared with BASE (P < 0.05).

Conclusions Long-haul transmeridian travel can impede team sport physical performance. Specifically, east travel has a greater detrimental effect on sleep, subjective jet lag, fatigue, and motivation. Consequently, maximal and intermittent sprint performance is also reduced after east travel, particularly within 72 h after arrival.

1Athlete Health and Performance Research Centre, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, QATAR; 2The University of Queensland, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, QLD, AUSTRALIA; 3Sport and Exercise Discipline Group, University of Technology Sydney, NSW, AUSTRALIA; 4Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA; 5Non-communicable Disease Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council Tygerberg, Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA; 6Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, ACT, AUSTRALIA; and 7Appleton Institute, Central Queensland University, Adelaide, SA, AUSTRALIA

Address for correspondence: Peter Fowler, Ph.D., Athlete Health and Performance Research Centre, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Sports City Street, Doha, Qatar; E-mail:

Submitted for publication May 2017.

Accepted for publication July 2017.

© 2017 American College of Sports Medicine