Whether it's for vacation or for a competition, if our destination is located in a time zones that differ from where we live, we are likely to suffer from circadian arrhythmia, or commonly referred to the effects of jet lag.
Our natural cycles of sleep, wakefulness, digestion, mood, energy and concentration can be affected by jet lag, as studies from the Douglas Mental Health Institute points out.
If the experience can be confusing as a traveller, it’s even worse for a competing athlete! Two of our athletes share their proven tips to counter jet lag effects which revolve primarily around rest and hydration as the keys to success.
Cindy Montambault, currently travelling from Quebec for mountain biking competitions in British Columbia and California:
- A few days before departure, if I travel west, I delay my bedtime, and if I go to Europe, I try to go to bed a little earlier. We can also progressively shift our daily meal times.
- Take naps! A few days before leaving, I’ll try to arrive at destination as rested as possible to facilitate recovery once on site.
- Drink lots and lots of water!
- On the plane, I’ll go to sleep instantly! Ear plugs and blindfold are my essentials! I don’t eat the meal they serve on the plane because it often contains a lot of carbohydrates and sodium.
- When I arrive, I’ll take the bike for a short spin to stretch my legs and activate my body. I tend to be affected by water retention on flights so I always try to reactivate the system as quickly as possible to eliminate swelling.
Sarah-Jeanne Bédard was recently in Mexico and Asia with the Canadian National Volleyball Team:
- I start eating and going to sleep around 2 hours later than usual during the 2 days before departure.
- During the first two days once at destination, I would recommend not to be exposed outdoors for more than 60 minutes and also avoid light exposure in the evening.
- I’ll take 3 to 5 mg of melatonin before going to bed.
- I’ll also take 50 to 200 mg of caffeine in the afternoon, a few minutes before a "power nap".
- I’ll make a quick and efficient nap (20-30 minutes) between 2PM and 4PM, time of the original destination!