I see that GM Kevin Spraggett took up the baton of my earlier post on sleep with this article. He suggests that for longer tournaments players adjust their sleep patterns so as to be fresh for the entire game, not something that I myself have done very seriously but I can see the point:
One of the necessities of playing in long tournaments, for example: a 9-round open held over 9 days, is that the chessplayer naturally re-adjust his sleep cycle to the schedule of games. I say ‘naturally’ , but perhaps ‘reasonably‘ is a better choice of words because the chessplayer does so consciously: it makes little sense to get 8 hours of solid sleep and wake up at 9 am when the round only begins at 5 pm.
Whilst we’re on the subject of sleep patterns I think it’s worth mentioning the issue of massive changes to our sleep patterns via jet lag, which players who travel half way around the World to play in tournaments are necessarily going to have to deal with. But should we just let it happen naturally (being jet lagged for the first few rounds) or are there some tricks that will help?
I’ve tried experimenting with some diets that help reduce glycogen in the liver and they worked rather well. But a simpler approach is to take a melatonin tablet about an hour before your bed time on reaching the destination. I’ve found that this helps sort me out rather quickly and without the messing around involved with a special diet.
Unfortunately it’s not available over the counter in the UK so I’ve usually tried to pick up a supply during any trips to the United States. One of the problems there though is that its potency diminishes over time so it’s better if your melatonin is fresh.