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The management of the  "Jet Laga" in athletes.

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The management of "Jet Lag" (1) in athletes.

For the sportsman "internationnal level," many of its major tournaments take place on distant continents, therefore, the proper management of jet lag is essential for an athlete.


(1) Terminology from English, jet: flight reaction, and Lag: offset. English term describing a syndrome resulting from a de-synchronization of the circadian rhythm.





jeg lag Physiology

While some disorders such as fatigue or stress are put directly on the time difference, the jet lag can have other pernicious effects occurring a few days after the flight.
Indeed I disorder of the human internal clock is sure to cause fatigue, digestive disorders (60% of cases) mood disorders and declines in memory function.

The "jet lag" appear at the 4 ┬░ time zone crossed.
It does not depend on the duration of the trip but the number of time zones crossed changes.

So a trip North -> South 8 hours will have no impact on the biological rhythm. Unlike a travel West -> East even shorter, may be deleterious.

According to some studies it is necessary to the body a day of recovery by time zone crossed.

If it is accepted that the diurnal adaptation trips to East is more difficult than those to the west, it is nevertheless advisable, in the latter case, lie in the local time on the first night in order trying to quickly adapt to the time difference. In these conditions, "stretching" the first day, it will be easier to fall asleep quickly.
Conversely, traveling eastward will be more deleterious as "shorten" the first day. In this case, it is the first sunrise local time that it will take priority.

One, see, everything is story of adaptation. If there were no time constraint and money, the ideal would be that athletes depart a few days (one day per time zone crossed in the direction East -> West and a day and a half in time the other direction) before each competition.

1 / Before you go:

Wherever possible, we ask athletes to adjust to the local time a few days before departure. For a trip to the West, will be advised to delay bedtime one hour a day the previous few nights departure.

2 / In the air:

Live immediately to the local time by setting your watch to the time at your destination. If possible, take meals to the destination schedules.
Remember to hydrate yourself by avoiding alcohol, coffee and tea.
For a trip to the West to avoid naps to sleep easily once you arrive.

3 / Once there:

a) "Play" with the sun and light!

The principle of "light therapy" is the blocking of the synthesis of a hormone (melatonin) under the effect of exposure of the body to light. Out, it is this hormone that causes the sleep signal.

-> In the case of travel to the west (where the aim is not to sleep too quickly), we advise the evening out and / or stay in well-lit areas to mitigate the effect of melatonin. Conversely, in the morning, we will take care to avoid exposure to sunlight and wear sunglasses.
-> For a trip to the East, we must emphasize the light exposure in the morning and avoid the evening

b) "Play" with food!

If your trip is to the West, focus, during the first meal foods rich in protein to help you stay awake. For a trip in the opposite direction, we rather choose carbohydrates.

c) Get active!

If possible, it is recommended to athletes to light training on the first night (if possible light) ending 3 to 4 hours before the scheduled sleep.

4 / Medicine and Jet Lag

a) Sleeping pills

-> To the east, according to flight schedules, some athletes benefit from the use of sedatives and sleep inducers favoring drowsiness "on demand" to get 7-8 hours, wake more easy local time.

b) Melatonin

-> As seen above, Melatonin can be used as a regulator of the diurnal cycle. This hormone has been much written it a few years ago, thinking she could solve the problems of insomnia and depressive thymie.

In using "anti Jet Lag", a study had shown that melatonin as fighter pilots were recovering faster and better than those who had taken nothing.

Currently, we do not recommend taking such treatment. If it is readily available to the United States, this hormone is banned in France and few studies demonstrating its safety in the medium and long term.

Doctor Regis BOXELE. - 22 f├ęvrier 2009.

Conflicts of interest: the author or authors have no conflicts of interest concerning the data published in this article.

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