If you travel frequently for competitions and tournaments you will be all too familiar with the difficulties of jet lag. It's that unsettling sensation that can make you feel worn out, irritable, and unprepared for training and competition. Simply said, your body's internal clock (the circadian rhythm) drifts from the local time as you travel through numerous time zones. This is because light and dark have a role in regulating the circadian rhythm, and when you go to a new location, your body isn't exposed to the same patterns of light and dark. Your sleep-wake cycle may occasionally become out of balance as a result, resulting in unpleasant symptoms and, frequently, a decline in performance on the court. Tennis players who experience jet lag may notice a substantial difference in their physical and mental performance. It may lead to:
Fatigue and increase in irritability
Difficulty concentrating and focusing
Disruption of the body's natural sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm)
Loss of appetite
Feeling tired at different times (Earlier or later than normal)
The last thing we want to happen when competing is for these symptoms to cause a decline in performance. What can you do, then, to lessen the effects of jet lag so that you can continue to compete at your best? You can actually overcome jet lag quite quickly, and these tips below can help you do just that.
Before you even depart, acclimatise to the new time zone: In the days before your travel, gradually change your sleep routine to give your body time to adjust to the new time. According to sleep physician Dr. Daniel Gartenberg, by the time you board the aircraft, your body will have largely adapted to the new time zone.
Eat meals at the appropriate hour for your location. This implies that if it's dinnertime at your destination, eat a full meal even if it's the middle of the night where you are now. This will aid in your body's quicker acclimatisation to the new schedule.
Refrain from napping: It can be quite tempting to take a nap when you get to your destination, but doing so can sometimes disrupt your body's natural sleep cycle even more. Avoid taking a long nap and make an effort to stay awake so that you can adjust to the local time more quickly.
We’ve recently come across an app called ‘time shifter’. You input the details of your trip and then it helps you try to go to sleep at those specific times, so it almost leads you into your trip. This means you can use jet lag to your advantage!
Maintain a regular sleep schedule for at least a week prior to the competition to ensure that your body is at its most effective. To do this, create a comfortable sleeping environment, abstain from coffee and alcohol, and attempt to stick to the schedule. To do this, set consistent bedtimes and wake-up times in the days leading up to the time change, as well as establish a soothing bedtime ritual. "Establishing a consistent sleep regimen, wether that’s of your current time, or the time of the destination you are going to, is vital for enhancing sleep and avoiding the impact of jet lag," says sports and sleep specialist Dr. Cheri Mah.
In conclusion, tennis players performance can be significantly impacted by jet lag. When athletes traverse time zones, their bodies must adjust for a while as they attempt to synchronise with the local time. It's critical that both athletes and their coaches take action to lessen the effects of jet lag and hasten the body's transition to the new time zone, as often jet leg, can, even have a subtle and unnoticeable effect on your brain. The positive though, is that tennis players should be able to successfully overcome jet lag, and quite quickly, especially if you they are using these 5 tips. Are you travelling a lot this year? Comment below if you have any jet lag secrets!