Our biological clock decides a lot in our life. Responsible of our daily welfare, it can, if deregulated, be the cause of many troubles, including sleep.
The origin of sleep
To understand the origin of sleep, it’s important to take a look at the pineal gland. Located in the brain, it “reacts” to the intensity of light by releasing more or less of a hormone called melatonin. Depending on its concentration in the body, this hormone will lead the sleep cycle.
This way, by nightfall, the pineal gland will secrete larger amounts of melatonin and a need of sleep will be felt. At the opposite, at dawn, the melatonin concentration will decrease in order to trigger awakening.
This process repeats naturally on a daily basis and adapts itself depending on seasons in order to always associate sleep to night.
Consequences of a disruption
Difficulties arise when, for a reason or another, life rhythm is disturbed, for example, with a night shift, insomnia or because of a trip causing jetlag. This last case affects a lot of travellers. It is easy to understand. When we cross 3 time zones or more, our body rhythm doesn’t fit with the time anymore. The brain is lost and we can feel it.
Different symptoms appear:
-Fatigue -Anxiety -Irritability -Inattention -Digestion problems…
The resulting stress can also create further negative reactions.
We need an average of one day per time zone crossed in order to recover from jetlag. It can easily be too much during a short business trip where every day counts. Without a good preparation, it will be long to synchronize again the melatonin production and thus feel rested.
There are solutions to ease this sleep-wake cycle synchronisation. Avoid artificial lights such as television or computers before going to bed, avoid alcohol and tobacco. It’s also important to expose the body to light during the morning.
Melatonin supplements can be taken. There are a lot of tablets on the market but their effectiveness fluctuates. Because of the long absorption time, the majority of the product is destroyed by the liver. A more efficient solution would be a sublingual spray administration in order to finally enjoy a real night’s sleep.
More information to come…