business or leisure, they also experience jet lag, which puts them in conflict with their natural sleep patterns. The shift in time and light forces the brain and body to alter from its normal pattern and adjust to the new time zone. Try to shift your sleep and wake times gradually to the new schedule a few days before you leave home and adopt the sleep/ wake cycle of your destination upon arrival.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
Our slumber can be plagued by over 80 known sleep problems and disorders. It is important to talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist as these can be diagnosed and are treatable. If you are having difficulty sleeping, be sure to maintain a sleep diary and complete the following NSF sleep assessment tool:
How's Your Sleep?
CHECK IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING APPLY TO YOU:
- Snore loudly
- You or others have observed that you stop breathing or gasp for breath during sleep
- Feel sleepy or doze off while watching TV, reading, driving or engaged in daily activities
- Have difficulty sleeping 3 nights a week or more (e.g., trouble falling asleep, wake frequently during the night, wake too early and cannot get back to sleep or wake unrefreshed)
- Feel unpleasant, tingling, creeping feelings or nervousness in your legs when trying to sleep
- Interruptions to your sleep (e.g., nighttime heartburn, bad dreams, pain, discomfort, noise, sleep difficulties of family members, light or temperature)
Reading the NSF sleep sheet, Sleep Talk with Your Doctor , can help prepare you for your visit with your doctor. Some of the more common sleep disorders include:
- Circadian Rhythm Disorders — The complex biological "clock" in humans sometimes breaks down. In delayed sleep phase syndrome, the "clock" runs later than normal. The sufferer often cannot fall asleep before 3 or 4 a.m. and cannot "wake" before noon. In advanced sleep phase syndrome, a person falls asleep early, for example at 7 or 8 p.m. and wakes at 3 or 4 a.m., and is unable to fall back asleep.
- Insomnia is a sleep problem experienced by over