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Up, Up and AWAY!

11 Jun

il_570xN.370110578_1hp1It’s summer and the vacation season has started, which means that you are more than likely in the midst of booking your flight to some getaway location. Perhaps you are planning a wine tasting tour of Italy, a scenic safari through the dunes of Dubai, or maybe even a trip to the beach in Tahiti to soak up the sun. No matter where the destination, don’t let your lack of sleep ruin it. After all, summer vacations are supposed to be all about fun and relaxation, right? One of the most common summertime sleep disorders is jet lag. Jet lag is a sleep disorder that can cause fatigue, disorientation, impaired concentration, lack of appetite, gastrointestinal disturbances, and headaches. It is brought on after traveling huge distances, across several time zones, and can last for days. What causes jet lag? Jet lag happens because rapid travel throws off your body’s natural rhythm or biological clock. “Cues such as light exposure, mealtimes, social engagement, and activities regulate our circadian rhythm,” says Allison T. Siebern, PhD, a fellow in the Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center. “When you cross time zones, it disrupts those, and your internal clock and the external times are desynchronized. Your body needs to get on the rhythm of the new time zone.” How can you get away from home and still enjoy your vacation without the dreaded effects of jet lag? Here are a few tips to get you through those summertime, traveling blues.

1. Pre-flight tips:

  • About a week before your trip, slowly start to shift your sleeping and eating schedule to match that of your vacation spot. This will help your body cope with the time change.
  • Make sure that all of your trip preparations are done well ahead of time. You do not want to be stressed right before your trip. Stress can cause your body to produce more adrenaline, which prevents you from sleeping.
  • Make sure that you get plenty of sleep the night before your journey. You want to be well rested since getting quality sleep on a plane can prove difficult for most travelers.

2. All aboard! In flight tips:

  • Change your watch to match your destination’s time zone as soon as you board your flight. “This is mostly psychological,” says Siebern, “but it helps you get into the mind-set of what you’ll be doing in the place where you’re going.” Mimic the time of day at your destination location. If it is nighttime at your destination then sleep and if it is daytime then try to stay awake. This, along with resetting your watch, will help your mind and body prepare for the new time zone.
  • Hydration is key. Make sure to drink plenty of water right before your flight and during your flight. Airplanes are often dry atmospheres, which aid in dehydration. Dehydration can actually cause the same symptoms as jet lag and can add to the fatigue, loss of energy, and headaches that you feel.
  • Minimize sleep distractions. If you are a light sleeper make sure to pack earplugs or headphones, a sleep mask, a pillow, and a blanket for your flight.

3. You’re finally there! Make sure the first day is dedicated to getting your body on track so you can enjoy the rest of your vacation.

  • Watch your food and liquid consumption. Alcohol, caffeine, and large or spicy meals can interfere with a good nights sleep so avoid these your first day in your new location.
  • Make sure that when you are ready to go to sleep that all incoming light in your new location is silenced. Close your curtains, or blinds, and turn off electronics. Light has a direct effect on the body by signaling your brain to wake up and actually stops the body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which responds to darkness.

Vacation is supposed to be a break from the real world. Don’t let the jet lag interfere! Start planning now so that your vacation will be a true trip to paradise.

Hallo-Lean

17 Oct

Ahhh… the onset of Halloween. Endless bowls of candy replace your summer decor as the inevitable commencement of the holiday season subtly inches closer and closer.

Temperatures begin to fall, the days get shorter — and people put on weight. And aside from the obvious reasons why people gain weight –less exercise & heartier meals– a study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that chronically sleep deprived individuals are more likely to store fat than their well rested counterparts. Further, the study noted that those who were sleep deprived were also at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

YIKES! Now that’s something to scream over.

According to the study, not getting enough sleep reduces your fat cells’ ability to respond properly to the hormone insulin, which is crucial for regulating energy storage. So, in the same way that your brain becomes groggy when you’re sleepy, your fat cells do, too!

Are YOU getting enough sleep?

David Neubauer, associate director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center said: “The study reinforces the importance of good sleep generally in promoting health… [The study] is an important step in our understanding of the relationship of sleep and physiological functioning, particularly regarding the increased risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity in people who have inadequate sleep.”

So the next time you’re straining to keep your eyes open to watch a little more late-night television, surrender! Just let sleep do its thing.

Work and Play AND Sleep?

18 Jul

It’s Friday night and you’re looking forward to going out and letting loose. There’s just one problem: you’re exhausted from working all week. What do you do? Take a quick nap? Drink an energy drink? Forego your night and slip on your jammies?

Work hard, play hard, sleep hard.  Ah, the virtues of hard-work counterbalanced by our focus on play. Of course, nowhere in this phrase does sleep play a role, although, it definitely should.

According to a study conducted by the independent, nonprofit organization, National Sleep Foundation, working too much and sleeping too little takes a serious toll on the professional and personal lives of many people.

The report also found that workdays mean less sleep for a high percentage of individuals.

Polls showed that 33 percent of consumers (the largest percent), are getting anywhere from 6 to less than 7 hours of sleep on workdays, with a similar percentage, 30 percent, getting seven to less than eight hours of sleep. Meanwhile, the average number of hours slept per weekday was 6 hours and 44 minutes!

“Studies show that habitually getting inadequate sleep — less than seven or eight hours of sleep each night –- creates long-lasting changes to one’s ability to think and function well during the day,” said Thomas J. Balkin, PhD, co-chair of the poll task force and NSF vice chair. “These negative effects can accrue slowly over weeks, months, and even years of inadequate sleep habits and cannot simply be reversed by a few nights of good sleep.”

The National Sleep Foundation says that in order to survive in today’s fast-paced world, many people say they use a variety of coping methods when getting an inadequate amount of sleep.

  • 84 percent say that they just accept it and keep going;
  • 58 percent of respondents say they consume caffeinated beverages;
  • 38 percent say they choose foods high in sugar and carbohydrates;
  • 37 percent say they will later take a nap;
  • And, 5 percent take alerting medications.

So what’s the solution? The answer is easy: get more sleep! But for many people, fitting sleep into their busy lives is often a burden.  That’s why it’s important to realign your schedule during the day: running errands on your lunch break, making dinner earlier or just simply organizing yourself are all ways to get to get to sleep earlier. Of course, I should mention that buying a new, comfortable mattress helps, too!

The reality is, you need sleep to be productive. Don’t let your professional and personal life suffer due to bad management skills. Figure it out, get more sleep and enjoy your life.

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