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 Nighttime * 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 from home: 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 jet lag. Traveling by car: * Get a good night's sleep the night before, especially if you have a long trip. * Avoid driving too early in the morning or late at night, when you are normally asleep. * 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 feathers. * 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 unwanted light. * 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