EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It takes most people several days to recover from the symptoms of jet lag when traveling overseas. By the time the Minnesota Vikings would have fully adjusted to the six-hour time difference, they’ll already be back in Minnesota gearing up for their bye week.
On Wednesday evening, the team will travel across the pond ahead of its Week 8 matchup with the winless Cleveland Browns. Upon arrival Thursday morning at 10 a.m. local time, they’ll have three days to get acclimated and prepared for Sunday’s game in London.
No one is immune to the fatigue caused by jet lag, not even NFL players with their chartered flights, training staffs and state-of-the-art technology to help their bodies recover quickly. Like some of his players, coach Mike Zimmer has never been to London and looked into “scientific things” to find the best methods to help the Vikings prepare for a long road trip.
The team brought in sleep specialists to show players how to expedite the process of getting in a routine. There’s no way to replicate rest, so players were told to sleep, sleep and sleep some more in the days leading up to their departure and do things like limit their caffeine intake in transit.
“Sleep in between these times, try to keep light in the weight these times, make sure you get rest before we even get on the plane,” Jarius Wright said. “They also told us to rest on the plane. They gave us a lot of different things, also like special glasses if you want to look at your phone -- it doesn’t keep you awake the whole time.”
Over the course of a season, players travel eight times during the regular season. While the flight to London is much longer than what they're used to, traveling to and from games by air is exhausting.
“Even when you travel to Chicago, even though it’s a short trip, you still feel the effects of traveling on a plane,” Adam Thielen said. “When it’s a longer flight, you’re going to have to recover fast from it and do the things that you need to do.”
While players have said they have to mentally prepare like it’s a short week, Minnesota will still have its normal three-practice schedule with one practice stateside and two in London five hours after they arrive and again on Friday. Kickoff is set for 8:30 a.m. CT (2:30 p.m. in London) Sunday.
One key for overseas travel is getting on the local sleep schedule as quickly as possible so one can wake up and go to sleep at normal times. Mike Remmers found his body already making some of those adjustments days ahead of when he’ll be traveling.
“I was up at 5:30 [Monday] morning, not even because of that,” Remmers said. “I was just up, I couldn’t sleep. I was like, I’ll start my early London training.”
Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater are expected to make the trip with the team, meaning the Vikings will have four quarterbacks present in London. Minnesota will be without starting strong safety Andrew Sendejo, who was suspended one game without pay for his illegal hit on Baltimore receiver Mike Wallace, but Zimmer noted the possibility of several injured players returning, including Stefon Diggs (groin), Nick Easton (calf), Mackensie Alexander (hip), Riley Reiff (knee) and Jeremiah Sirles (knee).