LIVE

    Tinted specs help Lions counter jetlag

    2016-02-24 19:52

    Johannesburg - The Lions will get a bit of help from science this year as they embark on the away leg of their Super Rugby campaign.

    As they travel to Japan for their first Super Rugby match of the season, the team will be using a pair of odd looking red-lensed glasses to help them cope with the effects of jetlag - an issue which often affects the performance of South African sportsmen when they travel internationally.

    “It is tough for our local teams when the travel across to Australia, New Zealand and now Japan,” says Golden Lions team physician Dr Rob Collins. “They often arrive only a day before a game and the effects of jetlag are difficult to manage. Sleeping tablets help but can sometimes leave you drowsy and lacking energy, as they take a while to work out the system after waking up. Furthermore, at this level of the game, rest and sleep at the right time and in the right quantity is critical to performance.”

    The SleepSpec is a pair of glasses with amber lenses developed Dr Rob Daniel, a specialist ophthalmologist with training in human physiology and neuroscience. Daniel has researched the human sleep control system and by combining the latest scientific research, his understanding of neurophysiology and his understanding of how the eye processes light, he was able to make the connection between light and the process of sleeping and waking.  

    “Our body clock is controlled by something called the circadian rhythm,” explains Daniel. “This is the 24 hour cycle of day and night which controls our sleep patterns and is adapted to the earth’s natural rhythm of day and night.”

    At night, as the sun sets the body produces melatonin, commonly known as the sleep hormone which is needed to prepare the body to sleep. When the sun rises, light - in particular blue light - increases stopping the production of melatonin, causing the body to wake up. 

    “Nowadays, however artificial light from lamps and particularly from electronic devices, means that the brain struggles to distinguish the change from day to night, melatonin production is suppressed and so our bodies are unable to move effectively into sleep mode,” says Daniel.

    The same thing happens as one travels across time zones. The natural circadian rhythm is disturbed - the sleep-wake pattern is upset, as are the rhythms for eating and working. Until all these factors are able to respond properly to the new environment we experience jet-lag.  This is not ideal for sportsmen who need to be able to perform at their physical best immediately.

    The SleepSpec works by filtering out blue light and allowing the body to produce melatonin and therefore prepare for sleep regardless of the actual time of the day.

    “One simply has to wear the SleepSpec for a minimum of two hours before wanting to go to sleep,” explains Daniel. “This allows for sufficient melatonin production to take place and provided the room is completely dark and there are no sources of blue light the body’s natural sleep pattern will take place.”

    Furthermore, melatonin is the body’s most powerful anti-oxidant and performs the important function of ridding all cells of free radicals and other toxins. Therefore good quality sleep is crucial for the health and of all athletes and will greatly boost performance and health.

    “We are very pleased to use the SleepSpecs as a new technology, which will help with sleep and recovery. The specs will also be very useful in managing the many time zone changes needed in Super Rugby this year, especially with us only being in Japan for four days and then moving directly onto New Zealand for two weeks, with a one week return trip to Argentina later in the year,” says Collins.

    What To Read Next

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk

    Fixtures

    Saturday, 29 July 2017
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, AMI Stadium 09:35
    • Lions v Hurricanes, Emirates Airlines Park 14:30
    Saturday, 05 August 2017
    • TBC v TBC, 01:00

    Results

    22 July 2017
    21 July 2017
    15 July 2017
    14 July 2017
    08 July 2017
    07 July 2017
    01 July 2017
    30 June 2017
    09 June 2017
    03 June 2017
    02 June 2017
    28 May 2017
    27 May 2017
    26 May 2017
    21 May 2017
    20 May 2017
    19 May 2017
    13 May 2017
    12 May 2017
    06 May 2017
    05 May 2017
    30 April 2017
    29 April 2017
    28 April 2017
    22 April 2017
    21 April 2017
    15 April 2017
    14 April 2017
    09 April 2017
    08 April 2017
    07 April 2017
    02 April 2017
    01 April 2017
    31 March 2017
    25 March 2017
    24 March 2017
    18 March 2017
    17 March 2017
    11 March 2017
    10 March 2017
    04 March 2017
    03 March 2017
    02 March 2017
    25 February 2017
    24 February 2017
    23 February 2017

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    The 2017 Super Rugby tournament has reached its quarter-final stage. When all is said and done, who emerges victorious?

    The ultimate Super Rugby quiz!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.