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Posts tagged ‘Effects’

Jet Lag

Jet lag is a phenomenon that occurs when traveling east and west through time zone changes. 1 The effect causes individuals to lose sleep because of change in time schedule and sleep patterns. Jet lag only occurs when traveling east and west because when traveling north and south there are no time zone changes.

Effects of Jet Lag

Symptoms of jet lag can include confusion, daytime drowsiness, lack of alertness and trouble sleeping. Those who are extroverted, not easily stressed, exercise regularly and have a set day to day routine will likely suffer less from jet lag. 2 Traveling to a place multiple time zones away is hard on both the body and the mind, which is why being prepared for such strenuous travel is the best way to combat negative reaction.

Combating Jet Lag

Jet lag can possibly be avoided by taking simple steps to help you body and mind adjust to the new time zone:

  • Choose a flight that allows you to arrive in the early evening, and then go to bed around 10 p.m. This will help your body adjust to the new because you will most likely be tired from traveling as is and staying up for a short period of time should not be too difficult. 1
  • Plan to sit on the side of the plane opposite of the sun while you will be traveling.
  • Drink plenty of water to combat the tendency to become dehydrated due to the dryness of the cabin. 2
  • Practice stretching and walking around to increase circulation on long flights.
  • Bring earplugs or headphones to help block out noises and light that may disrupt adjusting to your destination’s time zone. You may also want to forgo the on-flight meal as it may fall at a strange time in your destination. 2
  • Be sure to ask for or bring your own pillow for the plane and hotel that may offer the comfort of home and aid in the adjustment process.
  • Prepare for jet lag. Five days before you leave, begin to preset your biological clock for your destination: if traveling east, go to bed and wake up earlier each day; if traveling west, go to bed and wake up later each day. 2
  • Change your watch to the time at your destination as soon as you get on your flight.
  • Upon arriving at your hotel set the thermostat at 65 degrees Fahrenheit and request to have a room on a high floor on the street side of the building away from the ice machine, elevators and staircase. 2
  • On your first day in your new location, you should avoid napping and push through the day. Go to bed early that night to ensure you get a full night’s sleep.
  • Do not stay indoors your first day in your new location. Daylight can help to regulate your biological clock and aid in your adjusting to the new environment. 1

Coping with Jet Lag

Taking sleeping pills or melatonin supplements can help with irregularities in sleep routine by helping you to be forcefully adjusted to your destination’s time zone. This method is proven effective, but can come with side effects of using drugs to induce sleep.

Jet lag is an uncomfortable, but manageable when the proper preparation is taken. By focusing on the concept that sleep is the most important thing and not pushing your body and mind to adjust you can rest easy and make the most of your trip.

Bibliography

1. National Sleep Foundation—Jet Lag and Sleep; http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/jet-lag-and-sleep

2. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998. 151

Alcohol Before Bed: The Effects Of Alcohol On Sleep

Sometimes falling asleep is no easy task, and for many it’s downright difficult to do under any circumstance. Due to its sedative effect, alcohol is a common choice for those who have a hard time finding a way to fall asleep.  It’s important to consider the other effects, however, that alcohol will have—namely on the very sleep these people use it to achieve. Booze before bedtime may appear to ease the transition into dreamland, but what happens after that is well worth taking note of.

Adults function best with anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. The consumption of alcoholic beverages before bedtime, interestingly enough, will effectively serve to cut the number of hours actually acquired in half. In fact, drinking alcohol at any time three hours or less before bed can lead to both early waking and disruptions in the sleep cycle on the whole. The entire sleep process is advanced by alcohol intake: N-REM sleep [also know as “deep sleep”] increases, incrementally decreasing REM [or “Rapid Eye Movement” rest]. The problem is that you need both types, in very balanced doses. You may be surprised to learn that these facts don’t deter many: in recent studies, some 28% of insomniacs claimed to have depended on alcohol as a means for falling asleep, and fully 67% described the practice as helpful.

The difficulty with this nighttime “medication” approach is plain: alcohol can either make sleep disorders more frequent, or increase your susceptibility to acquire them. The most common sleep disorder that occurs as a result of the consumption of alcohol before bedtime is obstructive sleep apnea, and it’s one of the most destructive in regard to heart health. Drinking alcohol will narrow your air passages and thereby make it harder to breathe at night. As you gasp for the air that’s being blocked, your sleep cycle is deeply disturbed.When air is obstructed in the passages, your heart must work much harder to get the oxygen that it needs, which results in lasting health problems if it persists over a long period of time.

Studies have shown that the consumption of alcohol even just an hour before bedtime causes major disruptions in the second part of the sleep cycle, which will lead to early awakening. As mentioned earlier, drinking alcohol before bedtime will not only shorten REM sleep but increase deep sleep. The resultant physiological state is known as “REM rebound.” After consuming high doses of alcohol, the body becomes sedated, causing you to fall asleep quickly. After you begin to snooze, your body becomes adjusted to that alcohol running through your blood stream. By the time the second part of the sleep cycle is underway, however, your body has metabolized [re: eliminated] the alcohol from your system, and it will attempt to return your metabolism to normal levels. This is where that rebound begins to occur. Instead of successfully returning to physiologically-normal levels [gauged by certain sleep variables such as the amount of REM sleep acquired at night] your body will over-compensate and change its course in the opposite direction, which results in a sleep disturbance. Furthermore, this disturbance will disrupt the proportionality of the various sleep stages. When rebound and its associated disturbances occur, your body won’t feel fully rested the next day. We all know what that’s like: an unclear [or “foggy”] state of mind and a marked inability to perform simple tasks at an optimal and efficient performance level.

Several studies have evaluated next-day performance and alertness in healthy people who consumed alcohol before falling asleep. In one such study, young pilots drank alcohol between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. in quantities sufficient to result in BACs [blood-alcohol concentrations] of 0.10-0.12 percent right before bedtime. The following morning, over 14 hours after consuming alcohol and with BACs reset to 0, the performance of pilots in a flight simulator was significantly impaired when compared to their performance after imbibing a placebo. The lack of continuity and longevity of the sleep they experienced after heavy drinking is the same as what everyone will suffer when doing so: it simply makes people slower and less attentive the following day.

It’s clear by now that the effects of alcohol on sleep can be dire. Though you may believe it’s helping you sleep, the consumption of alcohol before bed will only result in next-day fatigue and an inability to remain alert… and can actually lead to a serious sleeping disorder. Aside from the havoc it wreaks on your system when frequently drunk at high levels, alcohol can also be dangerous to others around you. There’s no question that critical mistakes are made every day by folks in all walks of life due to the effects of alcohol consumption, whether in the intoxicated state or, like the pilots mentioned, well after you think you’ve “slept it off.” Remember that there are several alternatives to alcohol that are both healthier and more effective when it comes to getting the shut-eye you require on a nightly basis. For starters, you might try getting into a sleep routine, which is a tremendously effective way to train your body’s physiological nature into winding down at night. You’re probably already aware that you should avoid caffeine, dairy products, and smoking before bedtime. Finally, consider going to bed an hour or two later—it can help you go to sleep faster because you’ll be more fatigued. And bear in mind that your old mattress may be part of the problem… switching to memory foam will improve your body’s blood circulation and alleviate the pressure points associated with traditional innerspring mattresses so that you get more restful sleep each night. In sum, you can do better for your body than waking up with a hangover every day. It’s time to make strides toward getting some quality sleep without alcohol.

Even if you do own a fine memory foam mattress you must be sure to have good sleeping habits to help you fully enjoy it!

Alcohol Alert. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa41.htm. Retrieved on July 28th, 2009.
Alcohol and Sleep.Loyola Marymount Universtiy. http://www.lmu.edu/PageFactory.aspx?PageID=25070. Retrieved on July 28th, 2009.;