However, one Loughborough swimmer offset this challenge early on by converting to Japanese time in Loughborough well ahead of the Games.
Austria’s Felix Auböck, alongside his coach Andi Manley, made early changes to their day-to-day schedule to adapt:
“The standard protocol would be two weeks before the Olympics, each country would head for a holding camp…with Felix and the Austrian team that’s not open to us,” commented Andi Manley, Loughborough’s Director of Swimming and Felix’s coach in Tokyo.
“We’re actually going to arrive in Tokyo five days before his first race, which is his main event. Now, with an eight-hour time change and five days, that just doesn’t work.”
“We are taking steps to adapt here before, which will be over a nine- / ten-day period and we will reduce the time difference every day by thirty minutes / sixty minutes.
“So when we get to Tokyo, we are already adapted by six hours. When we get to race day we’ll be fully adjusted and there’s no difference anymore and we don’t feel like we’ve come from a different time zone.”
But just how important is sleep preparation and ensuring that athletes, coaches, and practitioners readjust to local time as soon as possible?
Speaking as part of the #lboro2tokyo campaign, Emeritus Professor Kevin Morgan added:
“If you live the disciplined life of an elite athlete, the chances are that you are accustomed to going to bed at a particular time, getting up at a particular time, training at a particular time, and basically looking after your body according to a schedule. Flying eight hours across the globe disrupts all of that.
“Sleep is not likely to be the factor that degrades performance, but if you suspect, and if you maintain the suspicion that your sleep is going to be degraded, then it could undermine confidence and your performance on the day.”
Professor Morgan speaks in more detail about sleep in a special edition of Loughborough University’s Experts in Sport podcast. The episode, Tokyo Talk: Maximising sleep patterns for Tokyo, can be viewed in full by visiting HERE.
Loughborough’s dedicated 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games website will feature all the latest news, videos, and medal tables from Japan.