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There is a scarcity of research examining the effects of long-distance transmeridian travel (LDTT) on the sleep and match performance of team sport players. To address this, 37 elite male rugby union players from a Super Rugby team undertaking LDTT were recruited. The participants completed validated sleep questionnaires and wore a wrist-worn activity monitor (Readiband™) during a Super Rugby season (including during periods of LDTT crossing 5, 6, and 13 time-zones) to ascertain objective measures of sleep. Sleep measures were compared using mixed model analysis to ascertain the effects of competition and LDTT on sleep. Total sleep time (TST) increased in the days prior to matches, and decreased following matches (accompanied by a later time at sleep onset), particularly when next-day early-morning flights were required. TST was decreased when sleep was attempted during LDTT, except for in the last travel bout where players napped in addition to achieving night-time sleep. TST was also reduced for the night immediately following LDTT, except for in Condition 3 where players delayed wake time and also achieved naps. This study exemplifies the challenges that team-sport athletes face in obtaining regular sleep when LDTT is required.
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