The Profound Way Your Sleep Cycle Affects You

By: Bel Marra Health | Brain Function | Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 04:44 AM

Sleep Cycles Affects Your HealthAre you having sleep problems due to shifts in your work schedule? Or are you suffering from jetlag caused by traveling to another part of the globe? Sleep problems, commonly known as insomnia, can be quite difficult for some people, especially when the amount and quality of rest and mental health is affected. Sleep problems related to shifts in work schedule and traveling are caused by a disruption in the circadian rhythm, or the internal clock of the body that relies on the number of daylight hours. For example, a normal circadian rhythm involves 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. During the 12 hours of daylight, a person performs routine activities, such as going to work or school. On the other hand, evenings are spent resting at home and sleeping.

Sleep problems develop when an individual changes activities with respect to his or her routine schedule. For example, a nurse who has been working on the dayshift has been reassigned to the night shift for the next three months. This person will thus feel sleepy during the first few days of the new shift, an indication that the body is not used to this change in work schedule. It is important to address methods in solving sleep problems related to work because this can affect one’s mental health. Lack of sleep can result in poor judgment and thus may result in lower quality of performance. Sleep problems also result in poor motor coordination, resulting in accidents while driving or operating a machine.

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Sleep problems also affect mental health, resulting in extreme sensitivity and irritability to things, events, and people surrounding a person. Sudden outbursts of anger and other kinds of emotions are signs of mental health problems caused by lack of sleep. Poor social interactions with members of the family and co-workers are also related to mental health issues generated by disrupted sleep patterns. Aside from mental health problems, the general health of a person with sleep problems could deteriorate, resulting in an individual with lower stamina and weakened immune system. Another mental health effect of lack of sleep is depression.

According to sleep experts at the Mayo Clinic, sleep problems caused by changes in the circadian rhythm can be resolved by adapting certain activities or natural sleep aids that can enhance sleep. One of the most common natural sleeps aids for insomnia is the control the amount of light when a person is about to go to bed. For a person working on the nightshift and sleeping during the daytime, this will entail using dark curtains to prevent sunlight to come into the bedroom. This setting will “trick” the brain to feel that it is indeed bedtime and allow the body to rest. Another example of natural sleep aids for insomnia is melatonin, which is a nutritional supplement that helps in attaining sleep. Melatonin also helps decrease the grogginess and other mental health issues related to shifts in the work schedule or jetlag after traveling to another time zone.

Aside from natural sleep aids, there are also other prescription drugs that can help resolve sleep problems. However, these drugs may have side effects and could also interact with other medications that are routinely being taken by an individual. Research has also shown that natural sleep aids serve as the safest method in treating sleep problems and mental health issues due to shifts in work time and traveling through time zones.

The use of natural sleep aids such as melatonin is quite straightforward. According to studies mentioned by the Mayo Clinic sleep experts, natural sleep aids can be taken a few days before a scheduled trip to another country with a significant time difference. The time of intake of natural sleep aids before the flight should, however, coincide with the evening hours of the country of destination. It is also possible to take natural sleep aids upon arrival at the country of destination and continued for another five days. Natural sleep aids such as melatonin are available in a variety of doses. Several reports have described melatonin as a highly effective natural remedy for certain sleep problems, thus preventing mental health issues related to insomnia.

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