Jet lag in athletes

Sports Health. 2012 May;4(3):211-6. doi: 10.1177/1941738112442340.


Context: Prolonged transmeridian air travel can impart a physical and emotional burden on athletes in jet lag and travel fatigue. Jet lag may negatively affect the performance of athletes.

Study type: Descriptive review.

Evidence acquisition: A Medline search for articles relating to jet lag was performed (1990-present), as was a search relating to jet lag and athletes (1983-January, 2012). The results were reviewed for relevance. Eighty-nine sources were included in this descriptive review.

Results: Behavioral strategies are recommended over pharmacological strategies when traveling with athletes; pharmacological aides may be used on an individual basis. Strategic sleeping, timed exposure to bright light, and the use of melatonin are encouraged.

Conclusions: There is strong evidence that mood and cognition are adversely affected by jet lag. Some measures of individual and team performance are adversely affected as well.

Keywords: athletes; circadian rhythms; fatigue; jet lag; travel.