Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep Apnea

The world and life of a sleep tech

Travel can Affect Your Internal Clock

Posted by amykr on April 12, 2009

It is the start of vacation season. With that many people have plans to travel. Or is it just that you travel around the country or the world for your job. Either way you can be affected by the sleep disorder that does not discriminate. It can affect anyone whether they have normal sleep or suffer another sleep disorder. Jet leg or desynchronosis is when your body’s internal clock and the external environment do not match.

The problem with jet lag is that there is so much information about it that it is hard to determine helpful information from inaccurate information. So let’s take a look at what causes it, how to minimize its effects and what might be in the future.

Jet lag happens when we quickly change time zones and can last for several days after the change. Our bodies have a rhythm that naturally cycles throughout the day. You are most awake between eight and ten and most drowsy between three and five. As you can see this is a 12 hour cycle. The problem is that just because you moved from New York to California does not mean your body’s internal clock has moved with you.

So how can you help yourself when you are going to travel? The first thing you should really do is consider is what time you are traveling. If you are traveling eastbound consider a daytime flight and then try to go to bed at the normal local time or soon after arriving if you arrive late in the night. Westbound travel does not have the same issues because you can just elongate the day to go to bed at the normal local time.

While you are traveling make sure that you stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This will help to limit some of the other issues caused by flight like headaches and stomach aches. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Their effects well actually add to the problems of trying to sleep at the new time you are trying to adjust to. Do not eat anything too heavy late in the evening as it can also interfere with sleep.

Take advantage of bright light. It can help your body adjust. If you want to delay sleep expose yourself to bright light late in the afternoon. If you need to go to sleep earlier then try exposing yourself to bright light first thing in the day.

Exercise can be helpful as well. Light exercising such as yoga, Pilates or a walk in the morning or early afternoon will help you to sleep better at night. If you exercise too late the day it can be more stimulating then relaxing.

Create the best sleep environment for yourself. Make sure the room is dark and there is no noise. If you nee bring ear plugs or a sleep mask if it will help. Bring something for your room that reminds you of home. A picture of your family, pillow or blanket from home might help you be more comfortable and fall asleep easier.

Medication is a last option. Currently there are only sleep aides to help. There is currently a new medication being tested called Tasimelteon can help to adjust Melatonin levels so that they change the circadian rhythm of the person. It looks to work on a 5 hours change or longer. This medication is in early testing still and will not be available for some time.

Jet lag may be a problem for many people but with a little planning and some good sleep habits it can be minimal zed.

Amy Korn-Reavis, RRT, RPSGT has been in the respiratory field for over twenty years. She has worked in all areas and is currently focusing on sleep and how to help the community feel better by sleeping better. She is the manager of Emery Sleep Solutions an independent testing facility located in Apopka, Florida. She is also the coordinator of A.W.A.K.E. Orlando a support group for people with sleep disorders http://awakeorlando.ning.com. If you have any questions about sleep or are looking for someone to speak at your community function she can be reached at areavis@emerymedicalsolutions.com

References:

Monash University (2008, December 17). New Medication Brings Hope Of Jet Lag Cure. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 11, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2008/12/081208212901.html

National Sleep Foundation. Jet Lag and Sleep/ Retreived April 11, 2009, from http://www.sleepfoundation.org/site/c.huIXKjM0IxF/b.4813263/k.9987/Jet_Lag_and_Sleep.htm

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One Response to “Travel can Affect Your Internal Clock”

  1. […] Travel can Affect Your Internal Clock « Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep … […]

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