If you take long-distance flights often or work for an airline, you know all too well about jetlag. The thing about traveling is the process of getting there; from checking in, running with your luggage to get to your gate, security lines, and hours of sitting inside a plane can be stressful and might take a hit on your sleep schedule.
When your internal clock gets misaligned with the local time at your destination, especially if it’s a different time zone, it can bring symptoms like sleepiness, impaired thinking, stomach problems, emotional difficulty, and even sleep paralysis. Thankfully, the symptoms will fade away when your body adapts to the new time and scenery. It might take a few days for your brain to realize that jetlag needs to go and vacation mode needs to be activated.
Same as our bodies need a shower to make us feel clean, our sleep schedule needs one too. And what better way to improve your productivity, mental health, and quality of life than having good habits and behaviors to make things better for you? Having routines promoting good sleep will have long-term consequences in everything else you do.
There are a few ways to achieve that: Having a sleep schedule, with a scheduled bedtime and wake time, by setting up alarms. Setting a consistent nightly routine that includes unplugging from electronics, dimming your light, and having 30 minutes to wind down before lying in bed might make the difference.
Our body has two key drivers to regulate our sleep: circadian alerting and the sleep-wake homeostasis system. Sleep-wake homeostasis is the one that manages how long we need to be awake and when to feel the need to sleep, depending on experience. This self-regulating system follows how long you’ve been awake to know how long you will need to sleep to recuperate.
It is unclear how it determines how much we need to sleep. However, during the day, neurons in our brain will activate that sensitivity with sleep loss. This system is also the one that will set up to sleep longer and deeply when there are periods of very little rest.