TRAVEL AND SLEEP: Are they connected?

Many of us would love to jet-set all around the world …. Climbing the Alps, enjoying pasta in Sicily, or sipping champagne by the Eiffel Tower.

But we all have things that hold us back. For some, it's financial, for others taking time off from work, and for some, it’s the idea that we would take so long to recover from the jet lag that the trip seems impossible.

Jet lag is considered a temporary sleep disorder when biorhythms get confused and out of sync. It occurs when our circadian rhythms are thrown off track and we struggle with accepting day and evening sunlight input to our brains. Exposure to sunlight influences the rise and fall of body temperature, plasma levels of certain hormones and other biological conditions.

Scientists say that it can take up to a day for each time zone that is crossed to get your body back on local time and circadian rhythms back on track. It is also believed that flying east is usually more difficult than flying westward. “When you cross time zones, it disrupts those, and your internal clock and the external time are desynchronized. Your body needs to get on the rhythm of the new time zone.”

Jet lag can affect each person differently, but common symptoms include lack of awareness, confusion, and fatigue. Internal symptoms may include a decrease in learning ability and memory capacity and reduced neuron growth in the brain.

We’ve put together a list of things to help you be proactive at thwarting off jet lag … here are some things to do before, during and after your flight so that you quickly recover from any jet lag you may be feeling.

Before your trip: 
1. Adjust your schedule before you leave to get your body used to a different time zone – start going to bed an hour earlier/later depending on which direction you’re flying
2. Stay on home time if it is a short trip – keep meal times and sleep/wake times the same
3. Avoid caffeine if you’re traveling at night

During the flight: 
1. Stay hydrated – the pressured air cabins on planes lower oxygen in the blood which makes you easily dehydrated
2. Eat sensibly – avoid a fatty or heavy meal while flying, these induce sleep
3. Exercise – periodically get up to stretch your legs, move around and get the blood flowing

After you arrive: 
1. Start eating meals on the new time zone schedule
2. Get fresh air and daylight – it will help to reset your circadian rhythms
3. Get a regular amount of sleep – don’t try to stay awake overnight to adjust to the new time zone

Now you’re ready to book that trip to Paris without fear of jet lag … Bon, voyage! Don’t forget to take lots of pictures and enjoy the scenery.

… sleep happily ever after …