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Jet Lag

Definition:     Jet lag is nothing but circadian rhythm disorder of our body system.It is also known as time zone change syndrome or desynchronosis.It can occur when people travel rapidly from east to west, or west to east on a jet plane. Jet lag symptoms tend to be more severe when the person travels from westward compared to eastward. It is a physiological condition which upsets our body’s circadian rhythms –

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Circadian rhythm is the 24-hour cycle in the biochemical, physiological and behavioral process of our bodies. In layman’s terms, it means biological clock of our body. The word circadian comes from the Latin word circa meaning “about”, and the Latin word diem or dies meaning “day”. Our circadian rhythms are driven by an internal time-keeping system. This biological clock is entrained by external environmental occurrences, such as the light-dark cycle of night and day. Put simply, our circadian rhythm regulates our daily activities, such as sleep, waking, eating and body temperature regulation. Problems readjusting our internal biological clock causes jet lag, as do problems with shift work, and some sleeping disorders.

People with jet lag have their sleep-wake patterns disturbed. They may feel drowsy, tired, irritable, lethargic and slightly disoriented. The more time zones that are crossed rapidly, the more severe jet lag symptoms are likely to occur.

Researchers from the University of Washington revealed that the disruption occurs in two separate but linked groups of neurons in a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, below the hypothalamus at the base of the brain. One group is synchronized with deep sleep that results from physical fatigue and the other controls the dream state of rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep

The condition of jet lag may last several days until one is fully adjusted to the new time zone, and a recovery rate of one day per time zone crossed is a suggested guideline. The issue of jet lag is especially pronounced for airline pilots, crew, and frequent travelers. Airlines have regulations aimed at combating pilot fatigue caused by jet lag.

The common term jet lag is used, because before the arrival of passenger jet aircraft, it was generally uncommon to travel far and fast enough to cause jet lag. Trips in propeller-driven aircraft and trains were slower and of more limited distance than jet flights, and thus did not contribute as widely to the problem.

Symptoms:
Symptoms of jet lag vary and depend on several factors, including how many time zones were travelled, the individual’s age, state of health, whether or not alcohol was consumed during the flight, how much was eaten during the flight, and how much sleep there was during the flight. Jet lag usually requires a change of three time zones or more to occur, though some individuals can be affected by as little as a single time zone or the single-hour shift of daylight saving time. Symptoms and consequences of jet lag can be a significant area of concern for athletes traveling east or west to competitions as performance is often dependent on a combination of physical and mental characteristics that are impacted by jet lag.

Light is the strongest stimulus for re-aligning a person’s sleep-wake schedule and careful control of exposure to and avoidance of bright lights can speed adjustment to a new time zone.
Traveling east causes more problems than traveling west, because the body clock has to be advanced, which is harder than delaying it, and the necessary exposure to light to realign the body clock does not tie in with the day/night cycle at the destination.Traveling east by six to nine time zones causes the biggest problems, as it is desirable to avoid light in the mornings.

General symptoms of jet lag are as follows:
*Headaches
*Head feels heavy
*Lethargy, fatigue
*Insomnia
*Irritability
*Mild depression
*Attention deficit – hard to concentrate on one thing for long
*Loss of appetite
*Slight confusion
*Dizzy unsettled feeling – this may be due to moving from the plane, which wobbles all the time, to firm land.
*Some gastrointestinal disturbances, such as diarrhea or constipation.

*Travel fatigue:
Travel fatigue is general fatigue, disorientation and headache caused by a disruption in routine, time spent in a cramped space with little chance to move around, a low-oxygen environment, and dehydration caused by limited food and dry air. It does not necessarily have the shift in circadian rhythms that cause jet lag. Travel fatigue can occur without crossing time zones, and it often disappears after a single day accompanied by a night of high-quality sleep
Causes:
Jet lag is a chronobiological problem, similar to issues often induced by shift work and the circadian rhythm sleep disorders. When travelling across a number of time zones, the body clock (circadian rhythm) will be out of synchronization with the destination time, as it experiences daylight and darkness contrary to the rhythms to which it has grown accustomed. The body’s natural pattern is upset, as the rhythms that dictate times for eating, sleeping, hormone regulation and body temperature variations no longer correspond to the environment nor to each other in some cases. To the degree that the body cannot immediately realign these rhythms, it is jet lagged.

The speed at which the body adjusts to the new schedule depends on the individual; some people may require several days to adjust to a new time zone, while others experience little disruption. Crossing one or two time zones does not typically cause jet lag.

The condition is not linked to the length of flight, but to the trans-meridian (west–east) distance traveled. A ten-hour flight from Europe to southern Africa does not cause jet lag, as travel is primarily north–south. A five-hour flight from the east to the west coast of the United States may well result in jet lag.

Crossing the International Date Line does not contribute to jet lag, as the guide for calculating jet lag is the number of time zones crossed, and the maximum possible disruption is plus or minus 12 hours. If the time difference between two locations is greater than 12 hours, subtract that number from 24. Note, for example, that the time zone GMT+14 will be at the same time of day as GMT-10, though the former is one day ahead of the latter.

Management & prevention:

Tip 1: Stay in shape

If you are in good physical condition, stay that way. In other words, long before you embark, continue to exercise, eat right, and get plenty of rest. Your physical stamina and conditioning will enable you to cope better after you land. If you are not physically fit, or have a poor diet, begin shaping up and eating right several weeks before your trip.

Tip 2: Get medical advice

If you have a medical condition that requires monitoring (such as diabetes or heart disease), consult your physician well in advance of your departure to plan a coping strategy that includes medication schedules and doctor’s appointments, if necessary, in the destination time zone.

Tip 3: Change your schedule

If your stay in the destination time zone will last more than a few days, begin adjusting your body to the new time zone before you leave. For example, if you are traveling from the U.S. to Europe for a one-month vacation, set your daily routine back an hour or more three to four weeks before departure. Then, set it back another hour the following week and the week after that. Easing into the new schedule gradually in familiar surroundings will save your body the shock of adjusting all at once.

If you are traveling east, try going to sleep earlier and getting up and out into the early morning sun. If traveling west, try to get at least an hour’s worth of sunlight as soon as possible after reaching your destination.

Tip 4: Avoid alcohol

Do not drink alcoholic beverages the day before your flight, during your flight, or the day after your flight. These beverages can cause dehydration, disrupt sleeping schedules, and trigger nausea and general discomfort.

Tip 5: Avoid caffeine

Likewise, do not drink caffeinated beverages before, during, or just after the flight. Caffeine can also cause dehydration and disrupt sleeping schedules. What’s more, caffeine can jangle your nerves and intensify any travel anxiety you may already be feeling.

Tip 6: Drink water

Drink plenty of water, especially during the flight, to counteract the effects of the dry atmosphere inside the plane. Take your own water aboard the airplane if allowed.

Tip 7: Move around on the plane

While seated during your flight, exercise your legs from time to time.Move them up and down and back and forth. Bend your knees. Stand upand sit down. Every hour or two, get up and walk around. Do not take sleeping pills, and do not nap for more than an hour at a time.

These measures have a twofold purpose. First, they reduce your risk of developing a blood clot in the legs. Research shows that long periods of sitting can slow blood movement in and to the legs, thereby increasing the risk of a clot. The seat is partly to blame. It presses against the veins in the leg, restricting blood flow. Inactivity also plays a role. It decelerates the movement of blood through veins. If a clot forms, it sometimes breaks loose and travels to the lungs (known as pulmonary embolism), lodges in an artery, and inhibits blood flow. The victim may experience pain and breathing problems and cough up blood. If the clot is large, the victim could die. Second, remaining active, even in a small way, revitalizes and refreshes your body, wards off stiffness, and promotes mental and physical acuity which can ease the symptoms of jet lag.
Tip 8: Break up your trip

On long flights traveling across eight, 10, or even 12 time zones, break up your trip, if feasible, with a stay in a city about halfway to your destination. For example, if you are traveling from New York to Bombay, India, schedule a stopover of a few days in Dublin or Paris. (At noon in New York, it is 5 p.m. in Dublin, 6 p.m. in Paris, and 10:30 p.m. in Bombay.)

Tip 9: Wear comfortable shoes and clothes

On a long trip, how you feel is more important than how you look. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Avoid items that pinch, restrict, or chafe. When selecting your trip outfit, keep in mind the climate in your destination time zone. Dress for your destination.

Tip 10: Check your accommodations

Upon arrival, if you are staying at a hotel, check to see that beds and bathroom facilities are satisfactory and that cooling and heating systems are in good working order. If the room is unsuitable, ask for another.

Tip 11: Adapt to the local schedule

The sooner you adapt to the local schedule, the quicker your body will adjust. Therefore, if you arrive at noon local time (but 6 a.m. your time), eat lunch, not breakfast. During the day, expose your body to sunlight by taking walks or sitting in outdoor cafés. The sunlight will cue your hypothalamus to reduce the production of sleep-inducing melatonin during the day, thereby initiating the process of resetting your internal clock.

When traveling with children, try to get them on the local schedule as well. When traveling east and you will lose time, try to keep the child awake until the local bedtime. If traveling west when you will gain time, wake your child up at the local time.

Tip 12: Use sleeping medications wisely — or not at all

Try to establish sleeping patterns without resorting to pills. However, if you have difficulty sleeping on the first two or three nights, it’s OK to take a mild sedative if your physician has prescribed one. But wean yourself off the sedative as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could become habit-forming.

There are also some homeopathic remedies that may be used. A product called No Jet Lag contains homeopathic remedies leopard’s bane (Arnica montana), daisy (Bellis perennis), wild chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), ipecac (Cephalelis ipecacuanha), and club moss (Lycopodium).

Valerian root is an herb that can be used as treatment for insomnia. Do not take valerian with alcohol. It is important to consult your physician before taking these or any other homeopathic or herbal remedy.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.
Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_lag
http://www.medicinenet.com/jet_lag/page4.htm#how_long_does_jet_lag_last

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News on Health & Science

New Drug May Put Jet Lag to Rest

The experimental medication, called tasimelteon, works like melatonin and restores normal sleep patterns, researchers say.
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An experimental drug that mimics the effects of the hormone melatonin can reset the body’s circadian rhythms, bringing relief to jet-lagged travelers and night-shift workers, researchers reported Monday.

In a study of 450 people who were subjected to simulated jet lag in a sleep laboratory, a team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that the drug restored near normal sleep the first night it was used.

There were no aftereffects from the drug, minimal side effects, and people who took it performed normally the next day, said Dr. Elizabeth B. Klerman, one of the co-authors of the study published online in the journal Lancet.

And unlike conventional sleeping aids such as Ambien or Lunesta, she added, the new drug, called tasimelteon, has no potential for addiction or abuse.

The main limitations of the study were the relatively small size and the researchers’ inability to measure performance and mood after the drug was used, experts said.

The study was designed and funded by Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Rockville, Md., which developed tasimelteon, and all of the researchers reported receiving funds from Vanda or other pharmaceutical companies.

“This is a very promising first step,” said Dr. Jay Udani, who runs the integrative medicine program at Northridge Hospital Medical Center and who was not involved in the study. But the research “does not prove that it works for jet lag or shift workers,” he added. “That needs controlled studies in the field.”

The body’s sleep-wake cycle is controlled by melatonin, which is produced by the pineal gland in response to patterns of light and darkness. Higher concentrations of melatonin in the blood are associated with greater sleepiness.

Some research has shown that administering melatonin can adjust sleep cycles in travelers and workers, but the results have been mixed.

Because melatonin can’t be patented, drug companies have been interested in developing melatonin mimics, such as tasimelteon, which can be patented.

In the first part of the study, 39 patients’ normal sleep habits were monitored for three nights in the laboratory before they were sent to bed five hours early.

They were then given one of four different doses of tasimelteon or a placebo 30 minutes before bedtime.

Researchers monitored their sleep efficiency — the percentage of time in bed they actually slept — and the amount of time required for them to fall asleep.

Although all the subjects benefited from the drug, those receiving the highest dose had a sleep efficiency of 89% the first night, virtually the same as the 90% efficiency before the trail started. Those receiving a placebo had an efficiency of 71%.

Patients taking the highest doses slept for an average of about 428 minutes, compared with 430 minutes before the trial and 324 minutes for those taking a placebo. It took an average of seven minutes for them to go to sleep, compared with 11 minutes before the trial and 22 minutes for those receiving a placebo.

Blood analysis showed that the melatonin cycle of those receiving the drug was altered to match the new conditions.

“They would be expected to sleep better because their internal clock is on the right time,” Klerman said.

Sources Los Angles Times

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News on Health & Science

Insomnia in kids may spell big trouble

 Does your child suffer from regular disturbed sleep? Beware, he or she could grow up to be depressed and suffer from various ‘co morbid anxiety disorders’.

According to a study published in the January 1 issue of journal SLEEP, sleep-disturbed children have been found to be more severely depressed and suffering from co morbid anxiety disorders compared with children without sleep disturbance.

The study, authored by Xianchen Liu and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh, was conducted on 553 children with a depressive disorder in Hungary. Out of this study group, 72.7% had suffered from some kind of sleep disturbance, of which 53.5% had insomnia, 9% hypersomnia (prolonged night time sleep and daytime sleepiness) and 10.1% had both disturbances.

Researchers said depressed girls were more likely to have sleep disturbance than boys, but age had no significant effects. In an e-mail interview with TOI, Liu said the study also found that across sleep-disturbed children, those with both insomnia and hypersomnia had a longer history of illness, were more severely depressed and were more likely to have anhedonia (a key symptom of depression associated with lack of pleasure in everyday pleasurable activities), weight loss, psychomotor retardation and fatigue than those with either insomnia or hypersomnia.

Liu is an assistant professor of psychiatry and has been conducting sleep studies for more than 10 years with a focus on sleep in children and adolescents for 5 years and on sleep and depression and suicidality for about 3 years.

“We know that depression is associated with sleep problems. But what this study shows is that in depressed youths, not all sleep problems are the same. Insomnia is the most common problem, but having a combination of insomnia and sleepiness is double trouble. Youths having both of these had more severe depression than youths with just one sleep problem,” he stated.

The study, conducted in 23 mental health facilities in Hungary, also pointed out that 90% of depressed adults had sleep complaints and over two-third of depressed children had significant sleep onset problems. “The surprising finding of the study was the relationship between sleep disturbances and depressive symptoms. Insomniacs suffered from depressed mood, diurnal variation and agitation, hypersomnia caused weight loss and worthlessness,” Liu said.

Said Dr Anupam Sibal, paediatrician at Delhi’s Apollo Hospital,”Sleep deprivation leading to health complications is a common problem in adolescence. School children should get between 10-11 hours of sleep a night to achieve good health and optimum performance. We see the hours reduce to 8 in adolescence due to late night television and internet chatting. This impacts their health, attention span, reaction time, memory and motivation, ultimately affecting their academic performance.”

To ensure the most effective care, researchers in the study have advised parents of sleep-disturbed children to first consult a paediatrician, who may issue a referral to a sleep specialist for comprehensive testing and treatment.

Source:The Times Of India