Sport / Performance

A good sleep and circadian rhythm have become important for elite athletes in the fight for success. It is during sleep that the body recovers and rebuilds after a training day or a match day. Elite athletes, like the rest of the population, are exposed to influences that result from living in a modern world. PCs, tablets, smartphones and TVs combined with LED lighting greatly affect the circadian rhythm and the ability to fall asleep. A good sleep can be decisive for whether you win or lose in a competition.


Sport and sleep
A good sleep is not only extremely important for elite athletes but also for exercisers who want a performance improvement.

Sleep can lead to better precision, faster recovery better concentration, a faster reactiontime, better learning ability and preparedness, and can help optimise training results and injury prevention.

If you, as a sportsperson, do not sleep enough at night or have a poor sleep quality with many awakenings, this can stop the many associated mental and physiological processes that take place at night.

Recovery from the damage and wear that the body has been exposed to during the day takes place in the first stage of sleep. It is also here that the energy is recharged and important hormones, such as growth hormones are released. Psychological and cognitive skills are then built up, including memory and the ability to learn.

Elite athletes must focus significantly on their sleep and incorporate it as a structural part of their day. Then they have the optimal prerequisites to optimise their performance. Here it is important to know that it takes time to build good sleep habits and it may take a while before the results become apparent. In other words, just sleeping well one or two nights before a competition is not enough.

As an elite athlete, good sleep can be challenged by late match times and the bright lights in stadiums, which suppress the production of the body's natural sleep hormone, melatonin. The challenge can also lie in the journeys that must be made across time zones. This is where jet lag comes into play.

Sport and sleep glasses
A combination of sleep glasses and possible light therapy can help elite athletes to regulate their circadian rhythm and sleep pattern, so that they can sleep properly at night and can feel fresh and well-prepared for the next morning. When you wear sleep glasses, the brain thinks it is night and starts the production of the signalling substance melatonin (sleep hormone). As a result, you fall asleep easier and faster than otherwise.

Basically, use light therapy every morning, seven days a week.

In the evening, you wear sleep glasses for 1-2 hours before you want to sleep. Here you must try to adjust the time you wear the sleep glasses. If you fall asleep too quickly compared to the planned time for sleeping, you must reduce the time you wear the glasses. The same situation applies if you cannot fall asleep even if you have worn sleep glasses. In that case, you have to increase the time you wear the sleep glasses.

Jet lag and sleep glasses
When elite athletes have to travel across time zones, they risk jet lag, which typically manifests itself in fatigue, indigestion, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, bad mood, less energy and general malaise. It is not a good starting point for participation in competitions.

The more time zones you cross, especially when flying east, the worse the experience of jet lag will be for sure. Jet lag occurs when you travel too far, too fast. This is because the body's internal clock is adapted to the usual time zone.

Sleep glasses can reduce the time it normally takes to adjust to a new time zone.

By using a combination of sleep glasses and possibly a light visor on the day of departure and possibly the following day according to a simple schedule, you can significantly reduce the symptoms of jet lag. This ensures that you get the most out of your trip.

If you wear sleep glasses, the body thinks it is night, and the production of melatonin, the body's natural sleep aid, starts. In this way, you can regulate the start time for melatonin production yourself.

It is actually relatively easy to handle the transition to the new time zone and eliminate most of the unpleasantness of jet lag. Everything depends on knowing the exact period of time to either avoid light or to seek out light on the day of departure and possibly the following day. Seeking out or avoiding light at the wrong times can worsen jet lag.

On the basis of specific information about travel plans and individual sleeping patterns, the elite athlete can use the Jetlag Guide on this website which contains instructions on when he/she should seek and not seek light.

When the instructions say to look for light, you should spend time outdoors if possible, as indoor lighting is usually not strong enough to reset the internal clock. If it is dark outside, the weather is bad, or you are sitting on the plane, you can use a light visor to achieve the necessary stimulation.

When the Jetlag Guide states that you must avoid light, conversely, if possible, spend time indoors in a darkened room. If the room is illuminated or you are sitting on the plane with the light on, you can use sleep glasses to achieve the necessary stimulation.

If you use our Jetlag Guide and a combination of sleep glasses and possibly a light visor, you can adjust to a new time zone within 1-2 days instead of the normal week or more.

Research regarding sport / performance

Below are a number of summaries/abstracts of scientific trials dealing with sport and performance. The abstracts originate from medical records (copyright).