Effects of Northbound Long-Haul International Air Travel on Sleep Quantity and Subjective Jet Lag and Wellness in Professional Australian Soccer Players

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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The current study examined the effects of 10-h northbound air travel across 1 time zone on sleep quantity, together with subjective jet lag and wellness ratings, in 16 male professional Australian football (soccer) players. Player wellness was measured throughout the week before (home training week) and the week of (away travel week) travel from Australia to Japan for a preseason tour. Sleep quantity and subjective jet lag were measured 2 d before (Pre 1 and 2), the day of, and for 5 d after travel (Post 1–5). Sleep duration was significantly reduced during the night before travel (Pre 1; 4.9 [4.2−5.6] h) and night of competition (Post 2; 4.2 [3.7−4.7] h) compared with every other night (P < .01, d > 0.90). Moreover, compared with the day before travel, subjective jet lag was significantly greater for the 5 d after travel (P < .05, d > 0.90), and player wellness was significantly lower 1 d postmatch (Post 3) than at all other time points (P < .05, d > 0.90). Results from the current study suggest that sleep disruption, as a result of an early travel departure time (8 PM) and evening match (7:30 PM), and fatigue induced by competition had a greater effect on wellness ratings than long-haul air travel with a minimal time-zone change. Furthermore, subjective jet lag may have been misinterpreted as fatigue from sleep disruption and competition, especially by the less experienced players. Therefore, northbound air travel across 1 time zone from Australia to Asia appears to have negligible effects on player preparedness for subsequent training and competition.

Fowler is with the Athlete Health and Performance Research Center, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar. Duffield and Howle are with the Sport & Exercise Discipline Group, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Waterson is with Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club, Rooty Hill, NSW, Australia. Vaile is with Performance Recovery, Australian Inst of Sport, Canberra, ACT, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Peter Fowler at peter.fowler@aspetar.com.