Long journeys, especially to the east and west, are associated with unpleasant ailments that can ruin the first days of your dream vacation. Who to blame? Of course – a jet lag that alternates our circadian rhythm after long travels.
Our internal sense of time was initiated by the sunlight that penetrating our eyes, changed the chemistry of our brain and paved new neural pathways. For millions of years, our species fell asleep when it was getting dark outside, and the most active hours of the day were when the sun was shining. Now the situation is quite different when we travel without worrying about whether it is night or day.
One of the side effects of long-distance traveling is sleep disorder as, e.g. insomnia. One of the easiest ways to avoid circadian rhythm disorder is taking sleeping tablets from Medicine Direct. You can also try to expose yourself to the sunlight in given periods of the day. Here are some tips on how to avoid insomnia caused by jet lag.
What is jet lag and how to avoid it
Jet lag is a physiological condition associated with a disturbance of processes dependent on the circadian rhythm (sleep, gastrointestinal motility, basic metabolism). The discomfort also concerns abnormal secretion of hormones such as cortisol or melatonin. Symptoms include sleep disturbance, attention problems, fatigue, appetite disorder, malaise, confusion, drowsiness, and headache.
How to cope with jet lag? Let’s imagine a flight from New York to London (east direction). Firstly, you need to ask yourself: What time is it according to your internal clock (time of the country you are leaving). You will know if you want to move your clock forward or backwards.
If you are traveling east then you will want to move clock hands forward – you will become an early bird. It requires avoiding bright light when your body thinks it is night and exposure to light after 6 AM according to the old time zone.
If you are traveling west – you need to delay your clock – in order to become a night owl. Look for bright light when the internal clock thinks it’s night and avoid it after 6 AM (take sunglasses with you!). Go to sleep and get up according to the new time zone.
Generally, it’s good to start preparations sooner and set your clock a few days before departure. Go to bed later when you plan a trip to the west. Earlier when to the east.
How to avoid insomnia and improve sleep quality
Do not use artificial light in the evening and spend more time outside during the day. You can improve morning performance and sleep quality without sacrificing electrical appliances – exposure to sunlight during the day is critical! Getting up early and spending more time outside during the day work as natural antidepressants. The cells in our eyes are particularly sensitive to the blue spectrum of light. We are susceptible to the effects of the light at night and shortly after dawn. That is why the morning light reverses our clock, and we get sleepy in the evening when it is not there anymore.
What can be the effects of jet lag?
Circadian rhythms control body temperature, physical strength, ability to concentrate, and hormonal balance. The easiest way to see the effects of jet lag is to observe professional athletes, who spend their lives circling the globe to compete in competitions. Due to the exhaustive schedule of matches and movement between different time zones, sleep experts were able to predict whether a given team would win or lose the match. In some disciplines (e.g. basketball) millisecond differences in response time can have a huge impact on the outcome of the game.
On ESPN sports television, Cheri Mah, the sleep expert analyzes the travel schedules of individual teams and the density of games. She predicts where exhaustion of players will determine the loss. The effectiveness of her forecasts was around 70% in the first year of the project. So, of course, gamblers learned to use this data for their purposes. The typical advantage of playing at the home-field almost disappeared when the home team recently flew a few time zones to the east. They suffered from jet lag, and the guest team had increased chances to win if they had not changed time zones. The accuracy of throws can be improved when the team did not suffer from jet lag, causing insomnia. It is since prolonged sleep improves information processing, which can help assess the ball’s speed and trajectory.
Nowadays, it is especially important to understand your biological clock. Conditions such as insomnia, depression or obesity are currently associated with disorders of the biological clock, which can be exacerbated by jet lag. Jet lag resulting in sleep deprivation can be overcome by systematic sunlight exposition. It may seem complicated, but dealing with jet lag, improving the quality of sleep and your productivity is not so hard.