Despite the reported detrimental effects of international air travel on physical performance, a paucity of interventions have been scientifically tested and confirmed to benefit travelling athletes. Consequently, the aim of the present study was to examine the effects of sleep hygiene and artificial bright light interventions on physical performance following simulated international travel.
In a randomized crossover design, 13 physically active males completed 24 h of simulated international travel with (INT) and without (CON) the interventions. The mild hypoxia and cramped conditions typically encountered during commercial air travel were simulated in a normobaric, hypoxic room. Physical performance, subjective jet-lag symptoms and mood states were assessed in the morning and evening on the day prior to and for two days post-travel. Sleep quantity and quality were monitored throughout each trial.
Sleep duration was significantly reduced during travel in both trials (P < 0.01), though total sleep duration during and following travel was almost significantly greater (P = 0.06) in INT (17.0 (16.2–17.8) h) compared to CON (15.7 (14.9–16.5) h). Maximal-sprint and countermovement jump (P < 0.05), but not Yo–Yo Intermittent Recovery level 1 test (P > 0.05) performance, were significantly reduced the evening of day 1 and 2 post-travel, with no differences between trials (P > 0.05). Furthermore, vigour was significantly greater (P = 0.04) the morning of day 2 in INT [5.3 (3.9–6.7)] compared to CON [2.8 (1.4–4.2)], and subjective jet-lag symptoms and mood states were significantly worse on day 2 in CON only (P < 0.05).
Whilst reducing travel-induced sleep disruption may attenuate travel fatigue, no improvements in the recovery of physical performance were apparent.
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Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery level 1 test
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The authors would like to thank the participants for their time and enthusiasm and gratefully acknowledge the allocation of resources provided by the School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University (Bathurst, Australia) and the Physiology Department, Australian Institute of Sport (Canberra, Australia) in support of this project. The authors would also like to thank Dr Emma Knight for her assistance with statistical analyses.
Conflict of interest
The authors report no conflicts of interest.
Communicated by Dick F. Stegeman.
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Fowler, P.M., Duffield, R., Morrow, I. et al. Effects of sleep hygiene and artificial bright light interventions on recovery from simulated international air travel. Eur J Appl Physiol 115, 541–553 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-014-3043-2
- Travel fatigue
- Physical performance