Article 4 – 2014
Question: I live in Western Australia and I am going to compete for the first time in some shooting events in Victoria in November and maybe back in the United Kingdom next June. I am curious on your thoughts on how long it should take me to adjust to perform at my best for the 3 hour time zone change from Perth to Melbourne and the 8 hour change from Perth to London?
Peter Bassett, Subiaco WA
Answer: It’s a good question Peter and one which many shooters often under estimate. Time zone changes or “jet lag” play a significant part in any sporting performance, but the results are more easily recognized in sports such as shooting that require a greater amount of mental effort and concentration.
Sleep deprivation caused by waking too early or falling asleep too late will have a significant detrimental effect on your score no matter what level you are competing at. It is vitally important to get exactly the same amount of sleep on the night before a competition as you would enjoy on a regular basis during your normal weekly routine. As a general rule in a perfect world if you were changing time zones by three hours then allow three days to get back into a normal sleep pattern or simply one day for every hour time zone change. Your trip to England will realistically take your body just over one whole week to fully adjust to this change. This is the theory, but in practice this is often unrealistic and uneconomical to actually have this amount of adjust time available, but my experience tells me at the very best you may be able to use the ratio of one day for every one and a half hours time zone change. Anything less and you are not giving yourself a realistic chance to adjust.
I have found that on longer haul flights across the Pacific Ocean or to Europe it is a tremendous advantage to try to work into your final destinations time zone by rearranging your life a little bit if possible one or two days before you leave. By this I mean try setting your day up to do your activities based on London time for a couple of days prior to your departure. This may mean going to bed later or getting up earlier, but it will help. On the flight heading to your destination make sure you adjust your watch before you get on board and hold off sleeping for as long as possible so you can “trick” your body into getting into a new sleep pattern. I have never been very successful at getting much sleep on long flights without the use of some type of sleeping aid. This can certainly help, but get your doctors advice first as the down side is the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) whilst sleeping in a sitting position for long periods of time without the possibility of moving your body.