ATHLETE’S AIR TRAVEL AND JET LAG

Blog by: Neeraj.M

Edited by: Suryakant Tripathi.

As the top professional level, players may have to compete in different parts of the world due to their international fixture and travels across multiple time zones. So the travel schdule induces travel fatigue resulting from journey itself and a syndrome known as jet lag when multiple meridians are travelled.

Travel fatigue refers to the feeling of tiredness and stiffness due to travelling for a long time, it can occur during airflight in northerly or southerly direction or after a long road journeys. It can be quickly reversed by rest, combined with light exercise and a shower or a short nap.

JET LAG refers to a symptoms that accompany flights across multiple time zones, the condition is more robust than travel fatigue & is caused by a desynchronisation of circadian rhythms. The symptoms of jet lag includes intermittent periods of fatigue, lack of ability to concentrate, irritability, unusual mood disurbances, gastrointestinal upsets, and difficulty to sleep in appropriate time.

The main difficulty after a flight to the east is getting up in the morning, while going to west when staying asleep for the night is a problem. JET LAG may be worsened by a fatigue effect similar to the homeostatic drive for sleep. So the choice of departure and arrival time is important.

Diuretics such as alcohal, caffeine should be avoided, the preference being for water or fruit juices to compansate losses incurred in breathing dry cabin air. Light exercises such as isometrics or streching, or walking should be done following a long period of sitting inactive.

A strategy for coping with JET LAG and hastening adjustments to the new time zone must be based on knowledge of circadian rhythms and how the body clock works.

The body clock controls physiological functions in a rhythmic manner following a 24 hour cycle, this phenomena is known as circadian rhythm that have two components exogenous and endogenous. The exogenous factors include environmental variables such as temperature and light as well as physical activities  whereas endogenous rhythm are determined by activity in suprachiasmatic nucleas cells of hypothalamus, these specialists hypothalamus cells have receptors for MELATONIN- a hormone produced by pineal gland during darkness which regulate sleep and wakefulness.

COPING WITH JET LAG:-  Adjustments need to be made for waking time, the timing of meals, and training sessions and the time of retiring to bed.

Pharmaclogical approches like extract of melatonin  and its synthetic analogues have gained in usage but as yet no single pills has been identified as an antidote to jet lag.

Beside this the effect of melatonin are opposed by light and so  the timing of exposure to bright light is the key in implementing a behavioural approach. Exposure to natural light or artificial light before the travel promotes a phase delay whereas a phase advance is encoraged by light administered  after body clock time.

Whem traveling to westwards there is requirement of phase delay, and after arrival, light training sessions can be undertaken at any time of the day, Avoid long naps at midday. Light exercises, exposure to daylight  and social activities is important to adjustments, the players being encouraged to retire early to the bed on the first evening. Once the players adapted to the new time zone an afternoon nap can be encouraged.

While travelling to east a short lie in can be taken for the the first and second mornings. This extension of sleep is in line with the desired phase advance. Exercises and exposure to bright light should be avoided in the morning, it is important  for travelling players in group to have same strategy  so the adjustments is in a uniform direction for the group as a whole.

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