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With many athletes, both Age Group and elite, having to travel across several (or in some cases, a lot of) time zones to the Gold Coast ITU Triathlon World Championships, they will feel fatigued and may be unable to sleep at an appropriate time. They may also suffer a loss of appetite and concentration, and some people experience constipation and general malaise.
These symptoms are the result of the body’s internal clock trying to ‘retune’ to a new schedule and individuals are affected by jet lag in different ways, for example the effects may be worse in the mornings. Jet lag is generally worse when travelling east, so if a return journey is heading back to Europe or Africa it should not be as severe as heading west to Australia.
Top Tip 1
Try and adjust your body clock before you travel. Go to bed an hour or two earlier than normal and get up earlier. This will have the effect of getting your body clock moving towards the different time zone.
Top Tip 2
Reset your watch as soon as you get on the plane and don’t keep converting it to the timezone of your home country.
Top Tip 3
After food has been served, normally in the first hour or two of the flight, try and sleep. Ideally you should get at least four or six hours, but even small naps are beneficial. Make yourself comfortable, recline your seat and use eye-shades.
Top Tip 4
Take additional food and water onto the plane with you and drink plenty of fluid throughout the flight to avoid dehydration. Avoid alcoholic drinks, tea, coffee or cola style drinks that contain caffeine; they will make it harder for you to sleep.
Top Tip 5
On arrival from a long haul flight, such as to Australia, you usually arrive early in the morning – try to avoid natural daylight for the first part of the day but also try to avoid sleeping. If you need a nap make sure this is not for longer than 30min. Staying awake until normal bedtime will mean you get a good first night’s sleep which will help your body adjust quicker.