Sleep Hygiene and Light Exposure Can Improve Performance Following Long-Haul Air Travel

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To assess the efficacy of a combined light exposure and sleep hygiene intervention to improve team-sport performance following eastward long-haul transmeridian travel. Methods: Twenty physically trained males underwent testing at 09:00 and 17:00 hours local time on 4 consecutive days at home (baseline) and the first 4 days following 21 hours of air travel east across 8 time zones. In a randomized, matched-pairs design, participants traveled with (INT; n = 10) or without (CON; n = 10) a light exposure and sleep hygiene intervention. Performance was assessed via countermovement jump, 20-m sprint, T test, and Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Level 1 tests, together with perceptual measures of jet lag, fatigue, mood, and motivation. Sleep was measured using wrist activity monitors in conjunction with self-report diaries. Results: Magnitude-based inference and standardized effect-size analysis indicated there was a very likely improvement in the mean change in countermovement jump peak power (effect size 1.10, ±0.55), and likely improvement in 5-m (0.54, ±0.67) and 20-m (0.74, ±0.71) sprint time in INT compared with CON across the 4 days posttravel. Sleep duration was most likely greater in INT both during travel (1.61, ±0.82) and across the 4 nights following travel (1.28, ±0.58) compared with CON. Finally, perceived mood and motivation were likely worse (0.73, ±0.88 and 0.63, ±0.87) across the 4 days posttravel in CON compared with INT. Conclusions: Combined light exposure and sleep hygiene improved speed and power but not intermittent-sprint performance up to 96 hours following long-haul transmeridian travel. The reduction of sleep disruption during and following travel is a likely contributor to improved performance.

Fowler is with the Athlete Health and Performance Research Center, Aspetar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar, and the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Knez is with the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Thornton is with the Gold Coast Suns Football Club, Metricon Stadium, Carrara, QLD, Australia. Sargent is with the Appleton Inst for Behavioural Science, Central Queensland University, Adelaide, SA, Australia. Mendham is with the Div of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. Crowcroft is with the New South Wales Inst of Sport, Performance Support, Physiology and Nutrition, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Miller is with Performance Services, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, ACT, Australia. Halson is with the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, McAuley at Banyo, QLD, Australia. Duffield is with the Sport and Exercise Discipline Group, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Fowler (pete@recoveryatthehub.com.au) is corresponding author.
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