How can I fix jetlag related insomnia?

I just returned from a trip around Asia and my sleeping patterns are all over the place. Woke up at 11am on a weekday. Couldn’t get to sleep til 4am on the weekend. Tried to stay up longer hours to sleep deprive myself so I’d sleep at the right time. Still doesn’t work.

Any help?

Answer #1

What sleep aids and treatments can help to cure insomnia?

Self-help and non-medicinal treatments that might cure insomnia include:

* Improved sleep hygiene (sleep habits and sleep environment)
* Stress management and relaxation techniques
* Acupuncture and massage
* Cognitive behavior therapy (cognitive restructuring)
* Herbal remedies, nutritional supplements, and homeopathic remedies

What is sleep hygiene and how can it help me sleep better?

Good sleep hygiene is the term for sleep habits and conditions that promote sleep. Improving your sleep hygiene should be your first mode of treatment for insomnia. Review your habits and make some changes in your routine to see if behavioral and environmental changes help you to sleep

See Helpguide’s Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep provides a list of recommendations for improving your sleep hygiene. How can stress management and relaxation techniques help me sleep better?

Learning to be physically and mentally relaxed before going to bed will help you to fall asleep more quickly. You can’t quiet your mind and body immediately, so start winding down at least an hour before bed. Some people find that reading a book, taking a bath, playing solitaire, or working a crossword puzzle slows them down from the activity of the day. Other people benefit most from structured relaxation or stress management techniques. In addition, many relaxation techniques can help you get back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night.

Some specific relaxation and stress management techniques helpful for insomnia include: Relaxation or Stress Management Techniques Technique Description

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

First, you tense certain muscle groups, and then you totally relax them.

Abdominal breathing

Slow, deep breathing from your abdomen can be calming.

Autogenic training

Exercises can make your body feel warm, heavy, and relaxed.

Meditation

Focus on breathing, an object, or your body sensations to unwind.

Visual imagery relaxation or self-guided imagery

Close your eyes and imagine a place or activity that is calming and peaceful or one that is soothing in its repetitiveness.

Stress management

Manage your time effectively, take time to breathe deeply, spend time with other people, exercise, and have a positive outlook.

Anger management

Develop a method of releasing anger before you try to go to sleep. You might write in your journal or talk to a friend.

Mental games: word and imagination games

Engaging the mind in something unimportant like spelling or counting backwards can help you relax.

For more relaxation and stress-management techniques, see Coping with Stress: Management and Reduction Techniques and Stress Relief: Meditation, Yoga, and Other Relaxation Techniques. How can acupuncture, acupressure, and massage help with insomnia?

Acupuncture, a 5,000 year-old medical treatment involving the insertion of very fine needles into the body at specific points, can have an extremely calming effect on your nervous system. Acupuncture stimulates the production of certain chemicals in the brain, including serotonin, which appear to help you sleep.

Acupressure, a technique involving finger pressure on the same body points as for acupuncture, also helps insomnia. The advantage of acupressure over acupuncture is that you can do acupressure on yourself!

Massage helps you to relax, and, thus, promotes sleep. You can massage your partner or learn self-massage. Foot massages and back massages are great insomnia-busters.

The University of Maryland Medical Center provides information on the benefits of acupuncture, acupressure, and massage treatments for insomnia. How does cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) help with insomnia?

The significance of one’s thinking about sleep is often underestimated. Sleep problems that start as isolated incidents can become chronic because of mental hang-ups. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) involves talking with a therapist to address your beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors regarding sleep, all of which may be preventing you from getting the sleep you need.

CBT can reduce your misconceptions about sleep, as well as teach you positive sleep behaviors. It is often used in conjunction with stimulus control, sleep restriction, and good sleep hygiene. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most effective ways of treating insomnia. Some examples of cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia are:

* Getting A Good Night's Sleep With the Help of Psychology
* Cognitive Restructuring: Changing Your Thinking
* Gregg D. Jacobs' CBT for Insomnia program.

What other behavioral therapies can help with insomnia?

Stimulus control therapy, paradoxical intention, and sleep restriction are behavioral therapies that can help you reframe your current way of thinking about sleep. Your new sleep practices can help you create positive associations about sleep. Other Behavioral Therapies to Treat Insomnia Therapy Details

Stimulus Control

Stimulus Control therapy reassociates the bed and bedroom with sleeping by limiting the amount of time spent in the bedroom for non-sleep activities.

Paradoxical Intention

Rather than trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep night after night, do the opposite: try to stay awake. Turning your attention to doing something else can help remove the fear of not being able to sleep, and allow you to sleep.

Sleep Restriction

Sleep Restriction therapy reduces the amount of non-sleeping time a person spends in bed. Can bright light therapy help my insomnia?

Bright light therapy uses artificial light to simulate the effects of sunlight on the body’s circadian rhythms. Bright light therapy is generally used to treat people who have circadian rhythm sleep disorders or sleep problems associated with jet lag or shift work. Exposure to light at the right time of day may help you to reset your biological clock and to feel sleepy at the right time of day. What foods, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies might help insomnia?

Various foods, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies have been proposed as treatments for insomnia. These remedies are not proven to work, but if changing your diet slightly has a positive effect on your sleep, it may be worth a try. Foods with tryptophan, and the supplements L-tryptophan and 5-HTP

Foods such as turkey, chicken, milk, cheese, and beans contain tryptophan, a chemical that is converted in the brain to serotonin, which promotes relaxation and sleepiness. However, you need to eat foods containing tryptophan on an empty stomach. People have also tried using the supplements L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan. Due to a history of contamination of some of these imported supplements, the ingestion of L-tryptophan and 5-HTP are not recommended. Foods high in carbohydrates for curing insomnia

Carbohydrates are also thought to boost the production of serotonin and melatonin. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends “a carbohydrate snack of cereal or crackers with milk before bed.” Warm milk to make you sleepy

Many people swear by a cup of warm milk before bed to make them feel sleepy. Whether the tryptophan in milk in milk helps you sleep or it is the placebo effect, it may be worth a try. Melatonin supplements to cure insomnia

Melatonin is a hormone that affects your biological clock and your sleep cycle. Melatonin supplements may make you fall asleep faster, but they may not help you stay asleep. And because melatonin is a hormone, taking it as a supplement over the long term is not advisable. Other resources for information on taking melatonin for insomnia are

* Melatonin, from the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter,
* Melatonin: The Basic Facts.

Valerian and other herbal remedies for insomnia

Herbal remedies such as valerian root, kava kava, chamomile, lemon balm, St. John’s Wort, and passionflower have been used to treat insomnia for centuries. University of Maryland Medical Center provides more information about some herbal remedies and dietary supplements for treating insomnia, How can keeping a sleep diary help manage my insomnia?

A sleep diary can be a helpful way to keep track of your sleeplessness. Although a sleep diary is not a cure in itself, awareness of your sleep patterns can be an important element in solving your insomnia. For more information about keeping a sleep diary, see Insomnia and Sleep Problems and Sleep Diary.

About jetlag:

It starts before you take off. What you must do is to get a good night’s sleep the night before you travel. This is the key. Studies show that the night before we take a trip we usually sleep poorly and briefly. This just sets up the jet lag. So here’s the trick. Get your packing and preparation done early. Use your favoured sleep aid and get to bed early and sleep for a full 8 hours. Then use your sleep aid at the arrival destination for the first night only. Works like a charm for me.

But anyway… what is jet-lag and what causes jet-lag?

Jet-lag refers to the various physical, psychological and emotional signs and symptoms that air travelers experience after a trip that carries them across five or more time zones (i.e., travel to an area whose local time is five or more hours earlier or later than the local time at the place of origin). It is an unpleasant drawback of modern jet travel that invariably results in loss of productive hours, often for days, after arrival.

The signs and symptoms of jet-lag include fatigue, insomnia and daytime sleepiness, headache, irritability, difficulty in concentrating, memory problems, disorientation, clumsiness, decreased daytime alertness, general weakness, lethargy and gastrointestinal disorders including loss of appetite, indigestion and bowel irregularities. Jet-lag also adversely affects athletic performance.

The subjective effects of jet-lag disappear after a few days, but scientific studies show that the body’s physiologic processes may take up to 14 days to completely adjust to the new time zone.

Practically everyone (studies show more than 90 percent of long-haul travelers) is affected by jet-lag although some are affected more than others. In general, the symptoms are worse the older the traveler and the more time zones crossed. They are also more severe in people who are tired, excited, stressed or nervous before their flight. Also, eastward travel causes more symptoms than westward travel. But what causes jet-lag?

Human beings have an internal body clock. This clock is located in the hypothalamus (a part of the brain). A wide variety of the body’s physiologic functions such as sleep, body temperature, blood pressure and hormonal secretions marches to the beat of this internal clock.

The body’s internal clock is continuously being adjusted by rhythms resulting, directly or indirectly, from the environment (e.g., light/dark cycle; environmental temperature, atmospheric humidity, etc.). Adjusting the body clock, however, is a slow process. Thus, when one travels across several time zones in a matter of hours — which is the case when one travels by airplane — dissociation between the time in the local environment and the time in the internal body clock occurs. To eliminate this dissociation, the internal body clock adjusts to the rhythms of the new environment, but this process takes several days to a couple of weeks to complete.

Aside from an upset body clock, other factors that contribute to jet-lag are altitude and pressure changes at each landing and takeoff, prolonged sitting while inside the plane, and the dry atmosphere in the airliner cabin.

Advice for the flight:

  1. Take fluids liberally (plain water is best). This prevents dehydration that aggravates the symptoms of jet-lag.

  2. Avoid alcohol and coffee.

  3. Perform static exercises for arms, legs and trunk muscles while seated. These exercises are often demonstrated on the TV monitors of the plane. Alternately, walk up and down the aisle of the airplane every one to two hours.

  4. Do not overeat. Time your meals to coincide with those at your destination. By the way, some authorities say a high carbohydrate and low protein diet during the flight minimizes jet-lag, but the evidence on this is not conclusive.

  5. Time your sleep to coincide with nighttime in your place of destination. Use aids such as blindfolds, ear plugs, neck rests and pillows to help you sleep.

On arrival:

  1. If you arrive during the day, do not sleep even if you are tired. Stay outdoors and stay awake till nightfall. The fastest way to reset your body clock is by exposing yourself to sunlight.

  2. If you arrive at night, get some sleep. To facilitate sleep during the first few nights use your sleep aid as recommended by yokur doctor.

Answer #2

Melatonin works for me. Easier to fix going east than going west, though, as the latter entails forcing yourself to stay awake. Try doing it one hour per night if necessary.

Answer #3

Dear bopstar, of course it is necessary to get back on the need schedule. This means not sleeping if you’re tired unless it’s a scheduled bed time. A sleeping aid helps and 2 or 3 days should be sufficient for them. Do not have any caffeine or too much stimuli a few hours before scheduled bed time and always get up on the scheduled time…never sleep in even on weekends. Sue…good luck

Answer #4

Melatonin natural sleeping pills. love them!

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