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The science of jet lag... and how best to beat it

Jet lag

Jet Lag is a debility similar to a hangover. Jet Lag derives from the simple fact that jets travel so fast they leave your body rhythms behind.

Our biological clocks are synchronized to a 24-hour period. Our internal clocks drive our circadian rhythms, which anticipate dawn and dusk, and control everything from blood pressure to how hungry we are. When we fly to a different time zone, (or work night shifts), our internal clocks go out of sync.

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The science of jet lag... and how best to beat it

The science of jet lag... and how best to beat it

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20140523-the-science-of-jet-lag

bbc.com

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Key Ideas

Jet lag

Jet Lag is a debility similar to a hangover. Jet Lag derives from the simple fact that jets travel so fast they leave your body rhythms behind.

Our biological clocks are synchronized to a 24-hour period. Our internal clocks drive our circadian rhythms, which anticipate dawn and dusk, and control everything from blood pressure to how hungry we are. When we fly to a different time zone, (or work night shifts), our internal clocks go out of sync.

We take a few days to adjust

Our bodies take a few days to fully adjust, depending on not only how many time zones have been crossed, but also the direction of travel.

Usually, it would take five or six days to adjust to a six-hour shift in time zone. When you travel east, your body has a shorter time to synchronize with the regular 24-hour sun cycle. When you travel west, your body has extra time to adjust.

Speeding up the adjustment

Generally, the best way to fool your biological clock is to shift your internal rhythms before the flight.

  • Restrict light exposure to specific times.
  • Restrict rest and meals.
  • Adjust activities such as walking and running to specific times.
  • Use melatonin - the hormone that makes us sleepy - in small amounts. However, certain people should avoid melatonin.

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The body is an orchestra of organs, each providing an essential function. In this metaphor, the circadian rhythm is the conductor. The conductor makes every neurotransmitter, every hormone, and every chemical in the body cycle with the daily rhythm.

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Irregular sleep schedules and broken sleep-wake times are not just an occasional traveling phenomenon, but a wider problem due to our social lives conflicting with our sleep patterns.

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Our internal body clocks are better programmed to help us sleep and wake up, according to our unique body chemistry and energy levels.

Ignoring our internal clocks in favor of the alarm clock, and following our social obligations, sacrificing on sleep, is taking its toll on our health.

Poor Sleep

As our sleep patterns shift, leading to poor or no rest, there are a bunch of diseases that become more likely:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Alzheimer's disease
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A cure for sleepwalking

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People who sleepwalk usually are advised to keep their room safe by locking windows and doors, and to maintain what’s called good sleep hygiene: keep to a regular sleep routine, turn mobile phones off, avoid stimulants, and so on. Sleepwalking can often occur as a result of poor or disrupted sleep.

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Willpower, memory, judgement, and attention all suffer when you are sleep deprived.

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The average adult spends 36 % (or about one-third) of his or her life asleep.

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The first purpose of sleep is restoration.

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The second purpose of sleep is memory consolidation.

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Although eight hours is the common mention, optimum sleep can vary from person to person and from age to age.

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Sleep Myths Busted
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