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Jet Lag, insomnia, pills, herbals for sleep

It's eight p.m. and I'm taking a trip to the airport to explore another sleep-related problem. Jet lag happens when you travel across several time zones. Before you know it, your internal biological clock is completely out of sync with your new environment. It can take your circadian rhythms days to catch up.
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NARRATOR : These folks are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their family friend Flora Rampoon. KAT CARNEY : So you just got in from France how do you feel now? Flora Rampoon (passenger arrived from air travel)FLORA RAMPOON (passenger arrived from air travel): I feel excited. KAT CARNEY : Really? Well it's eight p.m. Here. What time is it where you live? FLORA RAMPOON : Two. Two in the morning. KAT CARNEY : Two in the morning and you feel fine? FLORA RAMPOON : Yes. We are used to go dancing. KAT CARNEY : Oh. Okay. So you never experience jet lag when you travel like this? FLORA RAMPOON : Not really. It's worse when I go back home. KAT CARNEY : How does it affect you when you go home? FLORA RAMPOON : You feel hungry right in the middle of the night and it's just not sunny outside. So... NARRATOR : Flora is right. Jet lag is worse going east. Against the direction of the sun. Scientists once studied baseball teams. Those that had to travel west with the sun won more games than those that traveled east. In the battle against jet lag many travelers today are using melatonin supplements. As darkness approaches, our internal clock triggers the release of melatonin. As the level of the hormone rises in our body we begin to feel drowsy. A dose of melatonin may induce sleepA dose of melatonin may induce sleep, reset your internal clock and offset the effects of jet lag. KAT CARNEY : So you don't do anything like taking melatonin or resetting your clocks. FLORA RAMPOON : Nope. I had never heard about until today in the plane. A woman told me about it. KAT CARNEY : What did she say? FLORA RAMPOON : She said she had forgotten to take one but she usually takes it. KAT CARNEY : So you don't think you'll have any problems? You're gonna wake up tomorrow regular time? FLORA RAMPOON : I hope so. KAT CARNEY : I think it's because you're young. That's why. FLORA RAMPOON : Maybe. KAT CARNEY : Okay. Well I'm gonna go let you see your family. Okay? FLORA RAMPOON : Okay. Thank you. KAT CARNEY : Thanks for talking with us. FLORA RAMPOON : You're welcome. NARRATOR : If you're planning a trip, here are a few things you can do to minimize the effects of jet lag. Select a flight that allows early evening arrival and stay up until ten p.m. local time. Anticipate the change by going to sleep at your new bedtime for several days prior to your trip. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Both interfere with your sleep. And if these tips don't bring you relief? Don't worry. There's a new remedy that's based on our understanding that our brain uses light to synchronize our daily rhythms. KAT CARNEY : These space age specs are actually a prototypespace age specs are actually a prototype for a new product that just might turn out to be a foolproof remedy for jet lag. Wear them on the plane and these sensors beam lights into your eyes, which gradually reset your internal clock. So by the time you land. You're fresh as a daisy. KAT CARNEY : Well. It's the middle of the night and I'm still awake but that's because I'm trying to stay awake. See that person up there in the window? She's an insomniac and tonight she's going to pace the floor for hours trying to fall asleep. Almost two-thirds of Americans report some trouble falling asleep at least a few nights a week. Let's say we go meet our troubled sleeper. But shhh... the rest of the neighborhood's sleeping. NARRATOR : Allison make has insomnia. It's not just trouble falling asleep. Many insomniacs have trouble staying asleep and many find themselves waking up too early. Allison felt the full effects when she entered college. ALLISON : Being an 18-year-old, 19-year-old, 20-year-old, college student it affected my social life and that was really hard. I felt like this problem was really taking away my life and it was every day and it would only get worse. NARRATOR : Allison's doctors prescribed sleeping pills. The most common sleeping pills are benzodiazepinesmost common sleeping pills are benzodiazepines. These work by suppressing arousal centers in the brain. A newer class of drugs called imidazopyradines encourages deep sleep. But all sleeping pills are short-term fixes. They can create rebound insomnia and dependence. ALLISON : I got psychologically dependent on the medication and since it wasn't really helping me I wanted to go off of that. NARRATOR : Frustrated by her experience with sleeping pills, Allison looked for an alternative. There are herbals such as chamomile which may reduce stress and promote sleep. Hops which helps induce sleep by suppressing central nervous system activity and passion flowerpassion flower which some people use as a mild sedative to calm the body. SHIVA BARTON (naturopathic doctor) : You've had insomnia for a couple of years... NARRATOR : In consultation with naturopathic doctor Shiva Barton, Allison tried a combination of alternatives. He gave her vitamin B6 which helps build a chemical precursor to melatonin and he changed her diet to increase her blood sugar so she wouldn't wake up hungry in the middle of the night. ALLISON (patient with insomnia)ALLISON (patient with insomnia) : It was really hard to believe that was going to work and I was a little bit cynical but probably within a couple of weeks or a month's time I saw definite results. NARRATOR : For Allison, alternative medicine came to the rescue. Her insomnia is finally under control and best of all, she experienced a sign at least for her. That she's cured. ALLISON : One day I went to set my alarm but I forgot to actually turn it on and then I ended up oversleeping and it was very exciting. So instead of being upset that I was late to work. Everyone was pretty excited for me that I was late to work and my dad actually congratulated me that I had overslept. So that was exciting. That was very exciting. NARRATOR : This patient is about to learn a relaxation technique that may help some people avoid sleep medication. Over the next 15 minutes she will concentrate on her breathing and repeat a simple word over and over. As she does this relaxation exercise, Gregg Jacobs measures her brain waves. He is looking for a wave pattern called theta. GREGG JACOBS (PhD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center)GREGG JACOBS (PhD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) : Theta is the brain wave pattern that you produce as you fall asleep. The purple on this bar indicates low amounts of theta activity. Then what we have measured in our research is what do those brain wave patterns look like when somebody has been trained on relaxation techniques. But instead of just seeing purple now we're seeing areas of green in the frontal and temporal areas of the brain and that's exactly what is necessary for sleep onset to occur. NARRATOR : Gregg Jacobs's research is showing relaxation therapy can produce the exact brain wave patterns associated with sleep. Try a few relaxation techniques at home and perhaps you may be able to put your sleeping pills away. GREGG JACOBS : The majority of patients who learn mind body and behavioral approaches actually become normal sleepers. That's probably the biggest plus of using these mind body and behavioral approaches is they're very effective. They have very few side effects. They're very inexpensive and they are a nice alternative to sleeping medications. KAT CARNEY : If you have trouble nodding off even occasionally, sleep specialists have devised a list of tips that will dramatically increase your chances of sleeping like a baby. The key is to practice good sleep hygiene. NARRATOR : Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening. Exercise regularly but not within three hours of bedtime. Try white noise kike a fan. It can often encourage sleep. Take a warm bath about an hour and a half before bedtime. Your body temperature will drop rapidly which induces sleep. And finally, don't look at the clock. Obsessing over time only makes it more difficult to sleep.