Today we live in an age where transcontinental flights are commonplace. Whether it’s a vacation to Paris, a cross-country flight from California to New York or a business trip to China, people are on the move today more so than they ever have been before.
It’s an amazing thing to be able to wake up in one country and in less than a day be able to travel around the world to another. However, traveling to different time zones can adversely impact one’s health, this is particularly common with sleep patterns. In fact, your entire sleep schedule can be turned upside down!
Every day, millions of travelers struggle against one of the most common sleep disorders — jet lag. For years, jet lag was considered merely a state of mind. Now, studies have shown that the condition actually results from an imbalance in our body’s natural “biological clock” caused by traveling to different time zones. This is why it’s imperative that if you have sleep apnea you travel with your CPAP, so that your symptoms aren’t exacerbated. Today we’re going over the circadian rhythm, jet lag, and at least six jet lag remedies to make flying a little easier.
The Circadian Rhythm
The Circadian Rhythm is our natural internal clock that keeps us balanced as humans, it sends signals throughout the body telling it to perform different functions such as digestion, body temperature and of course, sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, crossing time zones can throw off your body’s internal clock and interfere with your ability to sleep well. In fact, the more time zones you traverse, the more challenging it can be for your body to adjust to the new local time.
*Note: Your chances of experiencing sleep difficulties like jet lag are greater when you travel from west to east, because it’s harder to move your sleep time earlier than it is to delay it.
What to do about it?
Knowing that traveling could affect your sleeping patterns shouldn’t keep you from traveling. Below are six jet lag remedies from Johns Hopkins Medicine to help you sleep better when you’re traveling.
Six Jet Lag Remedies and Preparations
- Sleep Strategically: Three days before you’re scheduled to travel, begin moving your bedtime an hour earlier (or later, as appropriate) than you normally would.
- Go with the Local Flow: After you land, try to sync up with the local schedule. For example, if people are napping in the middle of the day, or eating dinner at 9 o’clock try to do the same.
- Follow the Two Day Rule: If you’re going to be somewhere for less than two days, then try to stay on your own schedule. This is because by the time your body gets used to the time change it will be time to go home.
- Managing Light: If your flight lands early in the morning as you travel east, bring a pair of sunglasses to minimize light exposure. It is preferable to get maximal light exposure in the late mornings and early afternoons, this shifts your rhythm closer to your destination’s time zone.
- Get up and Move: When you start your day, take a warm shower and go outside and exercise. Increasing your body’s core temperature signals your internal clock that it’s time to get going.
- Pop a Melatonin: Levels of the hormone melatonin (the hormone associated with drowsiness) typically increase roughly two hours before bedtime, thus getting you ready to sleep. While it is not a cure-all for jet-lag, it does help your body to produce natural melatonin at the appropriate time when your schedule is off-kilter.
Travel and Your Sleep Apnea
Having sleep apnea in and of itself can make sleep very difficult. Knowing that you’ll be traveling and can possibly have your sleep impacted even more is the last thing you need.
If you’re going to be traveling and suffer from sleep apnea the above recommendations become even more important, this is in addition to remembering to pack your CPAP machine and making sure that it is clean and well maintained. A dirty CPAP machine can make you seriously ill.
The Lumin CPAP Cleaner is safe and easy to use, with no harmful ozone which can cause irritation to the lungs and respiratory system. The built in UV lights clean harmful germs from your CPAP and CPAP accessories.