There is no escaping jet lag: Why daytime naps are the worst approach to adjusting

September 9, 2018  11:13

Taking a long-haul flight most certainly means combating the effects of jet lag.

Symptoms can range from fatigue to stress to difficulty concentrating - which can hinder both a business trip and a vacation.

While we are all looking for a quick fix so we can get about our day, it turns out there is no such thing.

There is no cure for your biological clock and your time zone being out of sync, but there are tips you can follow to minimize this consequence of faraway travel.

Dr Joseph Ojile, founder of the Clayton Sleep Institute in Missouri, reveals why it can take days for us to adjust, why 'traveling west is best', and how having a glass of wine on the plane can worsen jet lag's effects.

Taking a long-haul flight most certainly means combating the effects of jet lag from fatigue to stress to difficulty concentrating (file image)      +1

Taking a long-haul flight most certainly means combating the effects of jet lag from fatigue to stress to difficulty concentrating (file image)

WHAT IS JET LAG?

Jet lag, also known as time zone change syndrome, occurs when your body quickly travels across time zones.

You have traveled faster than the ability of your body to reset its inner clock, what is known as your circadian rhythm.

This is particularly rough if you travel from west to east, such as from San Francisco to New York.

When it's 11pm Eastern Time in New York, and you know you should be going to sleep, your body is telling you it's actually 8pm Pacific Time.

'The general rule of thumb is "East is least and West is best" when it comes to traveling and jet lag,' Dr Ojile told Daily Mail Online.

'It's a lot nicer to go West because you land and effectively are just staying up before you go to bed.

'But when you go East, it's your night but their morning so you've got to get up and get moving.'

Our biological clocks are synchronized to light-dark changes and regulate multiple physiological processes including patterns of body temperature, brain activity and hormone production.

There are two internal body clocks that regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

The first is called the homeostatic sleep drive, which balances sleep and wakefulness.

A chemical by-product called adenosine builds up in the brain the longer you are  awake and, while you sleep, adenosine breaks down.

Not getting enough sleep can leave you with high adensoine levels and make you feel dazed and groggy.

'The way I like to teach homeostatic sleep drive to people is to think about it like a pitcher of water,' said Dr Ojile.

'You and I, our wakefulness early in the morning is like a full pitcher. But over the course of the day, you pour out that wakefulness so by the end of the day you're tired again.'

The other clock is our daily, or circadian, rhythm, which is located behind the optic nerves in our eyes, in a region of the brain.

Light is the main cue that influences circadian rhythms. When the sun rises, the brain sends signals to the pineal gland to suppress production of melatonin, the hormone that controls when you are awake and when you go to sleep.

 

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