WASHINGTON, June 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Summer vacation time is near, and
whether your travels take you to different countries and time zones, or a
nearby cottage on the beach, you don't want your precious days to feel the
brunt of sleepless nights. And jet lag isn't the only sleep disrupter.
"Many people don't realize how much their daily activities can affect
their nightly sleep, especially when they're on vacation," says Richard L.
Gelula, executive director of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). "For
example, we tend to eat more and consume more alcohol when we're on vacation.
And then there's those snacks, many loaded with chocolate -- and caffeine!"
Gelula adds. In addition to the chocolate, a heavy rich meal close to bedtime,
or alcohol, may mean heartburn and a night without sufficient, restful sleep.
But in addition to foods, many over the counter (OTC) medications may have
side effects that can put a crimp on summer fun. Certain antihistamines often
taken for allergies or cold symptoms have ingredients that can cause
sleeplessness at night and sleepiness during the day. These OTC drugs include:
* brompheniramine, the ingredient in Dimetane(R) and Comtrex(R) Maximum
Strength Acute Head and Cold
* diphenhydramine, found in Benadryl(R) Allergy and Contac(R) Day/Night
* triprolidine, the active ingredient in Actifed(R) and Sudafed(R) Sinus
* pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant found in OTC cold remedies and
diet aids may also cause insomnia
These active ingredients are also found in many products sold under store
brands such as CVS or RiteAid.
"It is important to read the labels and familiarize yourself with certain
ingredients," says Meir Kryger, MD, a director of the National Sleep
Foundation. "If you think that over-the-counter medications are causing
drowsiness, your pharmacist or doctor can assist with potential alternatives.
If you're taking other prescription drugs, ask your doctor about appropriate
use and potential side effects. Sometimes, simply taking a medication in the
morning instead of at night can mean the difference between a good night's
sleep or a day you wish you were asleep," Dr. Kryger adds. He also cautions
that if you take medications that can cause drowsiness, don't plan to drive.
Dr. Kryger is Director of the Sleep Disorders Centre at St Boniface Hospital
in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
NSF offers the following tips to help you sleep well while you're away
Minimizing jet lag:
* Anticipate time zone changes in advance. If you're traveling east, get
up and go to bed earlier beginning a few days prior to your trip, and
a few hours later if you're heading west.
* Arranging for a late afternoon or early evening arrival will give your
body time to adjust to the time change.
* Live by local time. Try to remain awake until at least 10 p.m. local
time to help you get a full night's sleep,
* Enjoy the sunlight, especially in the morning, to help regulate your
biological clock. Daylight helps regulate the biological clock by
keeping you awake; conversely, darkness can induce sleep and worsen
Traveling by car:
* Get a good night's sleep the night before, especially if you have a
* Avoid driving too early in the morning or late at night, when you are
* Schedule regular stops every 100 miles or two hours.
* Have a place to sleep, if your trip requires an overnight stop.
* Travel with a companion to help watch for signs of fatigue.
General Travel Tips:
* Take naps -- Short naps (15-45 minutes) can be refreshing, help you
acclimate to a new time zone and stay alert on long drives. Avoid naps
close to bedtime. On the road, be sure to pull off in a safe,
well-lighted area away from traffic.
* Caffeine care -- A caffeinated beverage or energy drink can promote
short-term alertness and may be good for long drives, however, alcohol
and foods and beverages with caffeine should be avoided three to four
hours before bedtime.
* Your home away from home -- check it out -- If you're checking into a
hotel or motel, check out the room before you check in. Make sure it
is quiet, away from noisy areas such as the elevator or ice machine.
Try to avoid facing a busy road or highway. Make sure the mattress is
comfortable and if you have allergies, ask for pillows without
* Keep your bedtime routine. Going to sleep and awakening at your regular
times helps avoid sleep disruptions. Relaxing in a warm bath or hot
tub can help promote sleep.
* Bring familiar items with you such as a pillow, alarm clock and other
bedroom items. Earplugs and eye masks can help keep out noise and
* Don't sunburn -- Sunburn is a major cause of sleep disruption for
adults and children.
Traveling with Children
Traveling with children presents its own special challenges regarding
sleep. Keeping your child's usual napping and bedtime routine and bringing
along comfort toys and belongings such as a favorite blanket or pillow, can
help with his/her sleep away from home. When travel involves another time zone
for more than a few days, these tips can help your child (and you) adjust:
* Expose your child to bright light in the morning rather than the
afternoon. This will help shift your child's internal biological clock
and adjust to new schedules.
* Try to shift all sleep times -- nap and bed time -- and keep them at
the new time while you're away.
* Be patient. It may take up to a week for your child to make the
adjustment in his/her sleep habits.
The National Sleep Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization
dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving public
understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, and by supporting public
education, sleep-related research, and advocacy. NSF is based in Washington,
DC. Visit us on the Web at www.sleepfoundation.org.
SOURCE National Sleep Foundation