Caffeine may be used to help control sleepiness during daylight hours. Under the guidance of a physician, judicious use of a sleep-inducing medication may help control sleep loss but does not resynchronize the circadian sleep cycle. Alcohol should not be used to induce sleep because it disturbs sleep patterns.
Some authorities recommend carefully exposing the body to multiple zeitgebers, at specific times, to shift the body’s circadian rhythms before traveling across time zones. These synchronizers include exposure to light, fasting, shifting meal times, adjusting the carbohydrate-protein-fat ratio of meals, and consuming coffee or tea at specific times of the day multiple zeitgebers by humans has been shown to reduce fatigue for several days, the efficacy of specific strategies requires validation by controlled scientific experiments.
Some of these recommendations are supported by scientific evidence more strongly than others. Experimenting with these techniques, over several months, is the best approach because it is likely that each person will respond uniquely to transmeridian travel, and perhaps even differently from one trip to the next. One thing is certain. Resynchronization is a complex process. The best action may only minimize the effects ofjet lag, not eliminate them completely.
Although traveling may disrupt sleep patterns, you can reduce the effects of jet lag. © Chris Boylan/Unicorn Stock Photos
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Sleep Loss, Health, and Performance
It is widely accepted that sleep is essential to good health. The condition known as sleep loss is difficult to define, but it begins when one gets considerably less than of sleep, the average amount needed by an adult each night. The following statistics, published in
, illustrate the wide-ranging effects that sleep loss may have on human health:
Missing of sleep reduces the immunological activity of cancer- and virus-fighting cells by .
Fatigue is the most common cause of death in truck accidents that are fatal to the driver.
Twenty percent of all automobile drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Eighteen million Americans experience disruptive lapses in breathing sleep apnea during sleep, which often result in undiagnosed sleep loss.
Sixty million Americans have frequent or chronic insomnia.
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