Jet Lag Insomnia: The Traveler’s Bane
With so many people traveling through different time zones to conduct business or for pleasure, Jet Lag is a commonly known phenomena. Jet Lag, also known as desynchronosis and flight fatigue in the medical community, is the result of the body’s natural circadian rhythm being thrown off by traveling between time zones. Insomnia is a common manifestation of Jet Lag.
Jet Lag Insomnia occurs when the body tries to continue to operate on its normal time zone. For example, a Californian flies to London. The Californian’s body will continue to operate on US Pacific Time, even though London is nine hours ahead. The result is insomnia as the body attempts to adjust to this change. The variation of how long this lasts depends on a number of factors including how many time zones were crossed. For example, if the traveler crossed six time zones, it’ll take the body about three to five days to adjust.
Melatonin, the body’s natural sleep regulator is produced in the hypothalamus in the brain. When it is sunny outside, the hypothalamus tells the body to withhold production. When it’s dark, the body produces it. In the case of Jet Lag Insomnia, the hypothalamus hasn’t reprogrammed itself to the new time zone yet and as a result does not know when to tell the body to produce more melatonin. The result is a frustratingly, sleepless night.
There are several easy ways to prevent Jet Lag Insomnia:
• Have a regular exercise and healthy diet program. If these are already in place, keep doing them. Exercise and good nutrition go a long way.
• Avoid alcohol the day before your flight or the day of. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating and dehydration can disrupt your body’s natural processes.
• If you have a medical condition, see a doctor. They may be able to recommend something geared specifically to you.
• Attempt to change your schedule if you’re going to be in your new time zone for more than three days. This will help ease your body into the new time zone and lessen the symptoms of Jet Lag or prevent insomnia.
• Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and is dehydrating.
• Drink plenty of water. When the body is well hydrated, it is better able to function.
• Move around the plane often. A ten hour flight can be taxing on the body if you just sit the whole time. Try to get up and walk a little bit.
• If necessary, see your doctor for sleeping medication or try something natural like supplemental melatonin vitamins.
There is no reason Jet Lag Insomnia has to interrupt your life. With a few alterations in your daily life before embarking on travel, you can prevent it.