The science of jet lag... and how best to beat it
Generally, the best way to fool your biological clock is to shift your internal rhythms before the flight.
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Around 30 to 50 percent of people sleep between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am. Another 40 percents are either slightly morning people or slightly evening people.
To understand why some people are early birds while others are night owls, we have to take into consideration the body's circadian system.
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.
This makes us our sleep habits unique and tailored.
Being a morning (or evening) person is inborn, genetic, and very hard to change.
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.
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.
As our sleep patterns shift, leading to poor or no rest, there are a bunch of diseases that become more likely:
About 80% of our sleeping is of the SWS variety, identified by slow brain waves, relaxed muscles and deep breathing.
Deep sleep is important for the consolidation of memories. New experiences get moved to long-term storage and less important experiences from the previous day get cleared out.
Dreaming accounts for 20% of our sleeping time.
The length of dreams can vary from a few seconds to almost an hour. During REM sleep, the brain is highly active. The muscles are paralyzed, and the heart rate increases. Breathing can become erratic.
Although eight hours is the common mention, optimum sleep can vary from person to person and from age to age.
One review that worked through 320 research articles concluded 7 - 9 hours of sleep are enough for adults. According to experts, too little or too much sleep can both have a negative impact on your health.