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Team USA Shares Advice on Fighting Jet Lag

By Lisa Costantini | July 05, 2012, 10 a.m. (ET)

Diana Lopez

The U.S.’s top athletes are preparing to head across the pond for the London 2012 Olympic Games, where they will have a fight… with jet lag. Here 11 Olympians share their advice for beating travel fatigue the best way they know how.

Gwen Jorgensen, Triathlon

“I think jet lag affects almost everyone; however, this doesn't mean you can't minimize the affect of jet lag.  I always travel with my Hincapie Compression Tights. Compression wear helps my legs feel more normal upon arrival at my destination. I also drink a lot of water. I make sure to pack at least three Specialized water bottles and fill them up in the airport (after security). I'll drink them on the plane, along with other juices offered during the in-flight services to help keep me hydrated.”

Arielle Martin, BMX 

“Going east is always the toughest, it takes me a solid three days to get back into routine when we fly to Europe. I always make an effort to try switching my body clock a day or two pre-flight. Hydration and plenty of sunlight once I land also helps.”

Nathan Adrian, Swimming 

“Jet lag takes my body that has been trained for 11 months out of the year and throws it on a completely different rhythm. One thing that helps me get over jet lag is trying to eat my meals at the same time I usually do during training. Even if I am not hungry, I force myself to eat; and it helps to get my body on the right track.”

Mariel Zagunis, Fencing 

“Generally, I don't have a hard time with jet lag, but the best way I deal with it is the first few days I get to bed really early so I can sleep for a long time. I am lucky enough to have the natural ability to sleep anytime, anywhere. My record for sleeping is 19 hrs and 45 minutes straight. (I was in Italy and I only woke up because I happened to look at the clock and see that it was 5:00pm! Oops!) So my general rule when I get to Europe for a competition, I sleep as long as I can that night (luckily for me I get the first day of competition off because it's the preliminary qualifying rounds) then when I fly home from Europe a couple days later, I let myself take that next day off and sleep in as long as possible again (usual 14-15 hours for me) and this helps turn me around pretty quickly.”

Todd Rogers, Beach Volleyball 

“When it comes to jet lag staying away from the temptation of taking a nap is critical. I usually try and get a good workout in as I feel physical exercise helps acclimate the body. Just staying busy is a must. If I do wake up at 2am or something, I like to stretch until I get tired again. Usually about an hour or so.”

Mark Ladwig, Figure Skating 

“I find the best way to beat jet lag is to prepare your body in advance. I have heard from doctors it takes roughly a day per hour or time difference. When I have made trips to Beijing for competitions, which is a 12-hour time change from the Eastern Time zone, I began to combat possible jet lag 10 days prior to leaving. Each day I got up an additional hour earlier (which is easier to regulate than when I will go to sleep). So for example, 10 days out I got up at 6:30am, nine days 5:30am, etc., until one day before leaving I woke up at 9:30pm. I also try to fly out of the U.S. in the early evening so that I can arrive in the morning at my destination.” 

Reid Priddy, Indoor Volleyball 

“When it comes to jet lag sleep is key. And when it comes to that time, I use three sleeping aids to ensure the longest possible rest:

1. Eye Mask - I try to cover my eyes and make it completely dark telling my body: ‘It’s time to sleep. It’s night.’ (Even though it may still be light outside.)

2. Ear phones with ambient sounds playing - I use iPacifier's RIVER noise; we use it for my infant son and I am used to it now. This helps block out any outside noise and helps me stay asleep.

3. Ambien - Usually I am able to get to bed with no problem, so instead of taking a sleeping pill when I go to sleep, I will put it next to my bed in anticipation of waking up in the middle of the night wired.  I quickly take the pill, roll over, and that is usually good for another four hours.”

Brittney Reese, Long Jump 

“The best way for me to reduce the effects of jet lag — so that my performance on the track is not affected — is to sleep through the flight. This way by the time I get to where I am going, I will not be as tired.”

Diana Lopez, Taekwondo 

“Before we go to London, USA TKD will be going to Croatia 12 days before to get acclimated to time in Europe. But usually I go straight from the plane to get a good sweat in to fight jet lag!”

Matt Chrabot, Triathlon 

“When dealing with jet lag, I try to get used to the new time zone as quickly as possible. If I'm lucky enough to arrive in the morning, I force myself to stay awake for the entire remainder of the day —using as little as caffeine as possible, especially in the afternoon.”

Donny Robinson, BMX

“Over the years I've become quite a combat veteran to jet lag. A Monster energy drink to keep me up during the day and as much sleep at night is the key. Two days of that and it’s primetime.”

Related Athletes

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Gwen Jorgensen

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Nathan Adrian

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Mariel Zagunis

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Todd Rogers

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Mark Ladwig

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Reid Priddy

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Brittney Reese

Track and Field
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Diana Lopez

USA Taekwondo
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Donny Robinson