Viewing entries in
Sleep Soundly

Sleep Soundly Wrap-Up

Sleep Soundly Wrap-Up

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Keep in mind the seven keys to sleeping soundly: save your caffeine for the morning, defend your last hour, keep your sleep cave dark and cool, sleep 7-8 hours per night, don't snooze, and optimize your naps. Even if you can't achieve these on a daily basis due to your line of work, at least prioritize your sleep on your days off. 

2. Sleeping better will reduce the risk factors associated with heart attacks, strokes, and cancer, will strengthen your immune system, will build muscle, will regulate your appetite, and will help with learning, problem-solving, creativity, and your ability to manage stress. 

We’re at the end of the sleep component….but you’re going to keep working at it! You know how important sleep is. You can’t be exhausted and lead a healthy, happy, achieve your dreams life. You can’t drag around and be your best self at work or at home.

Here’s what you’ve achieved:

You learned that sleep maintains your health. You know it reduces the risk factors associated with heart attacks, strokes and cancer. You know that your immune system is strengthened by sleep, helping to keep colds, flu bugs, inflammation and infection at bay. You know that you build muscle and regulate appetite when you sleep well. You know that your brain gets scrubbed clean. And you know that your learning, problem-solving, creativity and ability to manage stress are boosted.

Here are the seven micro-wins for sleeping soundly, performing better and being healthier.

1. Save your coffee for the morning. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that stays in your system for about six hours or even longer. Avoid foods or drinks with caffeine for 6-8 hours before your bedtime. That coffee after dinner is just not a good idea. 

2. Defend your last hour. Our hectic lives mean that we often come home from work jacked up and are still revved at bedtime. Create a calming ritual to help lower the cortisol in your body. Make a to-do list and put it aside, stop checking email or other electronic devices by 8 p.m., and read a real book in bed. 

3. Your sleep cave should be pitch black. Light reduces your melatonin levels, and low melatonin can lead to disrupted sleep. Even light from your alarm clock is enough to wake you up. Keep it really, really dark.

4. Your sleep cave should be cool. Your body naturally cools down at night by about 0.3-0.4 degrees C, and that drop in temperature makes you drowsy. Keep the room no warmer than 19 degrees C to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

5. Sleep 7-8 hours per night and be consistent. Our brains and bodies love regular routines. Not only are your hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin well regulated by a good sleep routine, you lower the amount of stress caused by constantly changing sleep and wake times. Sleep for at least 7.5 hours and keep your fall-asleep and wake-up times consistent whenever possible.

6. Snoozers are losers. Keeping a regular sleep cycle and clocking at least 7.5 hours of shut-eye means that you’re likely to wake up out of REM sleep. This is a good time to wake up, as you’ll feel refreshed. Hitting the snooze button means waking up out of Stage 1 or Stage 2 sleep – not good! You’ll feel groggy and gross. Don’t do it.

7. Nap happy. There is growing evidence that napping improves energy, productivity, cognitive functioning and health. If you don't have time for a 90-minute full-cycle nap, take a short 15-minute power nap to improve alertness.

There you have it, folks… all of the sleep wisdom wrapped up in a warm (but not too warm!) blanket to take into your (very dark and quite cool) bedroom. With this knowledge of practical things to do to improve your sleep, your days will be the best they can be.

It seems like a no-brainer to get the right amount of rest. And yet, I know it’s a daily struggle.

Practical steps help a lot. Embrace the process of building your sleep cave: getting your bedroom really dark, keeping screens out, cooling the air, and having a few good fiction books at hand. Also, monitor your caffeine, avoid gastro-distressing foods, be consistent in your bedtime and wake time, fight like a hyena to get 7.5 hours of sleep, and avoid snoozing before or after your alarm.

It’s great to make 1% improvements. You can’t do everything at once. Small steps really matter and you can always do a bit more. And you really can sleep better. 

Today's POWER-UP: Apply the 1% Better Concept to your Sleep

EVERY NIGHT, YOU CAN MAKE A 1% IMPROVEMENT TO YOUR SLEEP SITUATION! AIM FOR 15 MINUTE IMPROVEMENTS AND 1% BETTER SLEEP. MICRO-WINS ADD UP OVER TIME TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Travel/Shift Fatigue and Jet Lag Wrap Up

Travel/Shift Fatigue and Jet Lag Wrap Up

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Remember the five keys to help combat jet lag and travel fatigue: time your light exposure, grab a bottle of melatonin, have proper hydration/nutrition, make time for physical activity, and structure your caffeine consumption.

2. However, if you’re traveling less than three time zones, or if you’re traveling again in one-two days, it might be more appropriate to stay on the timing of home and use strategies to combat fatigue (such as caffeine) as opposed to attempting to retrain your circadian oscillator twice.

These days, you’re not crossing a lot of time zones in your flights. But you likely have in the past, may do so in the future, and also could be travelling far and wide for vacations. So we’ve been talking for awhile about relieving jet lag as well as shift and travel fatigue. 

Sleep 15.jpeg

Here is a review of some of the important strategies when dealing with work, travel and being out of sync with your surroundings.

  1. Key 1: Time your light exposure - Your circadian rhythm is highly regulated by the amount of light you’re exposed to during the day. One way to adjust your internal 24-hour clock is to expose yourself to light at strategic times of the day. If you want to delay your sleep cycle, expose yourself to light in the evening. If you want to advance your sleep cycle, expose yourself to light in the morning of the new time zone or the shift you’re adjusting to.
  2. Key 2: Grab a bottle of melatonin - Melatonin can be used in conjunction with light therapy to help adjust to a new time zone or work schedule. Take melatonin when you’d like to become sleepy. If you do travel afar and cross more than eight time zones, you should start taking melatonin three days before your departure – so long as it doesn’t interfere with your work schedule. Being alert on the job is a priority.
  3. Key 3: Proper hydration and nutrition – When on a flight, make sure you’re drinking 8-16 ounces of water per hour with electrolytes (rather than tea, coffee or alcohol). When at your destination or ending your shift, rehydrate with non-alcoholic drinks (water with electrolytes). Bring healthy snacks on the plane (apples, nuts, carrots, whole grain crackers are great). 
  4. Key 4: Make time for physical activity – It helps you to maintain energy and alertness in general and can also assist with adjusting to a new bedtime if shift work tends to jumble your 24-hour schedule. Exercising with bright light will wake you up.
  5. Key 5: Structure your caffeine consumption - Use caffeine to reduce daytime drowsiness only when needed. Try slow-release caffeine options when possible and avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime.

Our body clocks aren’t easily disrupted by external factors. We tend to preserve our biological rhythms even in the face of daytime naps or waking throughout the night. However, it is exactly this resistance to disruption that makes it so difficult for our bodies to adjust to new time zones or shifts. In other words, our clock genes have substantial inertia that we have not yet found a foolproof way of manipulating. 

If you’re traveling less than three time zones, or if you’re traveling again in one-two days, it might be more appropriate to stay on the timing of home and use strategies to combat fatigue (such as caffeine) as opposed to attempting to retrain your circadian oscillator twice. However, if you’re traveling further away or are planning on staying for a longer time at that destination, try to adjust your sleep-wake cycle using the techniques above.

Hopefully, you’ve had some time to absorb this topic and have tried a few strategies to address fatigue and shift changes. Keep it up! These are some small but effective ways to live better, be healthier and enjoy both work and play time more.

Today’s POWER-UP: Plan ahead

Check out this website to help you plan your strategies ahead of time.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Sleep Soundly to Eat Smarter

Sleep Soundly to Eat Smarter

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Sleep affects what and how much you eat. The worse you sleep, the more likely you are to go for that unhealthy snack. This is because sleep helps regulate the amount of leptin and ghrelin in your body, which are the hormones that control and manage your appetite and satiety.

2. People who sleep less than six hours per night have almost double the risk of obesity compared to those who sleep six hours or more. Lack of sleep also disrupts insulin metabolism, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

3. Sleeping well helps us to manage our appetite, avoid cravings for sugar and high fat foods, and improve our body composition (more muscle, less fat).

Did you know that how you sleep affects what and how much you eat? That means that whenever you’re caught up in long shifts or back-to-back shifts and you end up sacrificing sleep, you may also fall into not-so-smart eating.

People who sleep less than six hours per night have almost double the risk of obesity compared to those who sleep six hours or more. The Canadian Obesity Network recently added sleep as one of its top recommendations.

We are in the midst of a worldwide obesity epidemic. We are also sleeping less than we ever have in history. Amazingly, those two problems are connected. Sleep helps regulate the amount of leptin and ghrelin in your body. Those are hormones that help to control and manage your appetite and satiety. So if you sleep better, you’re better able to avoid cravings for sugar and high fat foods. And you generally eat less overall.

But wait, there’s more!

Lack of sleep also disrupts insulin metabolism, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes. Recent research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine by Dr. Matthew Brady and his team showed that after four nights of sleeping 4.5 hours each night, the fat cells of the participants acted like the cells of people with full-blown Type 2 diabetes. What that means is that the fat cells became insensitive to insulin. Total body insulin response decreased 16% and fat cell response decreased 30%.

The bottom line: only a short period of sleeplessness changes the metabolism of your cells – as if you have Type 2 diabetes. That’s really not good!

Take every chance you can get to slow down, simplify your life and sleep more. Elite athletes know that their performance, health and food habits are linked to sleep. This is true for all of us regular folks too. Sleeping well helps us to manage our appetite and improve our body composition (more muscle, less fat). Maybe you’re not a high-performance athlete – but you want greater happiness, health, energy and wellbeing. Sleep is a genius move for all that.

A great biohack for using nutrition to sleep better and vice versa is to have a small protein snack right before you fall asleep. Research has shown that protein ingestion before sleep improves protein synthesis (like building muscles) by about 22% when compared to a placebo pre-bed snack. You may not be a big muscle type, but the more muscle we have, the better we run. A little protein before bed is good for all of us.

Today's POWER-UP: Eat your way to sleep

1. FOOD AFFECTS OUR ENERGY LEVEL: SOME FOODS REV US UP AND SOME FOODS CALM US DOWN. AS YOU BEGIN TO MAKE SOME CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE TO SLEEP BETTER, IT’S GOOD TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

2. HERE ARE SOME CALMING, SLEEP-INDUCING FOODS THAT ARE GREAT BEFORE BED: NON-DAIRY MILK, BANANAS, OATS, YOGURT AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS. SO IF YOU NEED A POST-DINNER SNACK, TRY A BOWL OF PLAIN YOGURT WITH BERRIES AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS OR FRUIT LIKE BERRIES OR A BANANA.

3. BUT THERE ARE SOME FOODS THAT STRESS OUR BODIES AND CAN KEEP US AWAKE AT NIGHT. SOME CLASSIC BODY-STRESS FOODS ARE THOSE HIGH IN FAT, BECAUSE THEY REQUIRE A LOT OF DIGESTIVE ENERGY AND STIMULATE THE PRODUCTION OF ACID IN THE STOMACH. SPICY FOODS CAN ALSO PLACE A HEAVY BURDEN ON YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM. 

4. BOTTOM LINE: AVOID SPICY OR FATTY FOODS BEFORE BED. OF COURSE, THOSE BIG GREASY MEALS ARE NOT HEALTHY IN GENERAL. BUT IF YOU ARE GOING TO INDULGE ONCE IN AWHILE, MAKE SURE YOU DO IT AT LEAST FOUR HOURS BEFORE SLEEP.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Jet Lag Key 5: Structure Your Caffeine Consumption

Jet Lag Key 5: Structure Your Caffeine Consumption

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Caffeine has been shown to improve memory, attention, alertness, reasoning and perception. However, you need to properly structure your caffeine consumption to optimize your health and performance.

2. Slow-release caffeine might improve resynchronization faster than fast-release caffeine. So consider the type of caffeine you ingest during the day. 

3. Caffeine remains in your system for four-five hours (or more), so avoid drinking it eight hours before you’d like to go to bed.

4. Don’t take more than 1,000 mg of caffeine in a 24-hour period. 

5. Save your caffeine for when you really need it, such as the pre-dawn hours of a night shift or the energy drop in the early afternoon. 

I’ve already mentioned caffeine in one of the sleep articles, but given how much we love our java (and teas and chocolate), I get a lot of questions about the health and value of caffeine. You may even have a caffeine habit up and running to help you with shift work and travel fatigue. So here’s some in-depth information you can use to be healthy and live your best life.

Obviously, crossing many time zones messes with your circadian rhythm and can leave you tired during the day while adjusting to a new time zone. Shift work can have the same effect – you experience daytime fatigue when you need to be alert or need to transition to a regular 24-hour sleep/wake schedule. Caffeine can alleviate daytime sleepiness and have a positive effect on circadian resynchronization when used in combination with melatonin (take a look back at the melatonin tip for a refresher).

Both fast and slow-release forms of caffeine may lessen daytime sleepiness and nighttime insomnia. Tossing a thermos of green tea (slow-release) in your bag for sipping throughout the day can help in reducing shift-work induced sleepiness or travel fatigue and help set you up for a night of sleep.

Also, caffeine has been shown to improve memory, attention, alertness, reasoning and perception. However, there are a few things to consider when using caffeine to help you adjust to work or travel:

  1. Slow-release caffeine might improve resynchronization faster than fast-release caffeine. So consider the type of caffeine you ingest during the day. I mentioned a thermos of green tea above because tea causes a lower spike in caffeine absorption but stays in your system longer, avoiding the caffeine crash that can result from coffee.

  2. Caffeine remains in your system for four-five hours (or more), so avoid drinking it eight hours before you’d like to go to bed.

  3. Don’t take more than 1,000 mg of caffeine in a 24-hour period. That could be about two cups of coffee, depending on what you brew or where you buy your coffee.

  4. Save your caffeine for when you really need it, such as the pre-dawn hours of a night shift or the energy drop in the early afternoon. It’s a more effective tool when targeted rather than consumed all day long.

Living well – with a positive outlook and genuine sense of wellbeing – requires having a thoughtful approach to some things that may have become thoughtless habits. By all means, enjoy your favourite caffeinated beverages. But take some time to absorb this learning about caffeine so you can use it as a sensible supplement to boost your health. 

Today’s POWER-UP

Have a look at the numbers in the chart below to become aware of caffeine levels in drinks and common medicines.

caffeine.png

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Sleep Better Keys 5-7: Getting to Excellence

Sleep Better Keys 5-7: Getting to Excellence

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Here are the final three keys to sleeping soundly.

2. Key 5: Sleep 7-8 hours/night and be consistent. This might only be possible on your days off. However if you prioritize your sleep on your days off, you will feel more refreshed and ready to be your best self at work and at home. 

3. Key 6: Snoozers are losers. Sleep cycles are approximately 90 minutes long. We're naturally designed to wake up during the end of our sleep cycle (during REM sleep). So if you wake up naturally within 45 minutes of your alarm, get out of bed. If you try and go back to sleep, you might fall back into the deeper stages of sleep and feel worse when your alarm goes off.

4. Key 7: Nap happy. Naps have been shown to improve energy, productivity, cognitive functioning and health. However, make sure that you take into account the 90-minute sleep cycle. If you want to have a quick power nap, sleep for 15 minutes. If you want to sleep for longer, make sure you complete the 90-minute cycle. 

In the last few posts about sleep, we talked about a bunch of ways to improve the quality of your rest: managing caffeine, defending your last hour, creating a dark sleep cave, and sleeping in the cool. Here are the final three keys to sleeping soundly so that you can tap into your full potential and achieve the dreams you have for your best life.

Key #5: Sleep 7-8 hours each night & be consistent

Research has shown that for adults, sleeping less than six hours per night is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality. That mean that our risk of dying from all kinds of conditions and diseases increases. As a point of information, it takes us 90 minutes to move through a complete sleep cycle. We need at least five complete sleep cycles (5 x 90 minutes = 7.5 hours) for optimal sleep. Take a moment to do some math and see how you’re doing. Cutting down on even one sleep cycle can leave you tired, less than excited about your life, and less able to accomplish all you want.

Also, if you’re sick or have had a really hard workout or a mentally demanding day (hello? most days?), you’ll need to tack on extra sleep to help you to recover and regenerate better. The bottom line? Not sleeping enough can actually decrease your life span! Do your best to get those 7-8 hours per night.

In terms of timing, an increasing body of evidence suggests that sleeping on a regular schedule is even more important than the total amount of time you are asleep. Studies show that when an athlete’s bedtime is shifted around, for example, but the total number of sleep hours remains the same, there is a measurable decrease in athletic performance. So sticking to a consistent routine is critical.

This can be hard in your line of work and not always possible. But any time you are on a regular schedule, it’s time to pay attention to sleep regularity. Try to get to bed and get up as consistently as possible. You really will feel more refreshed, alert and powerful.

Key #6: Snoozers are losers

We have five sleep stages (REM and sleep stages 1-4) within each 90-minute cycle mentioned above. Near the end of our sleep in the morning, we spend lots of time in REM sleep. We are designed to naturally wake up after a night’s sleep during a REM stage. If you wake up while you’re dreaming, you’re waking up at a good (REM) time.

So when you do wake up out of a dream, it’s a great time to get out of bed – if you are within 45 minutes of your alarm time. Don’t fall back asleep and hope that getting that extra 15-30 minutes will help. It won’t. Because you’ll drop down into stage 1 or even stage 2 sleep. And when the alarm goes off, you’ll be awakened from a state that you’re not physiologically supposed to wake up from. The outcome is that you’ll feel bleary and slow for hours.

The same goes for those of you addicted to your snooze button! Don’t set the alarm for 6 a.m. and then “snooze” for ten minutes…then ten minutes more…. You are not getting the right kind of sleep in those little ten-minute increments and will likely just feel more tired.

Key #7: Nap happy

It is fabled that Leonardo da Vinci used to take multiple 20-minute naps throughout the day to charge his creativity. Brainiac Albert Einstein was also a napper. It’s taken hundreds of years, but recent research seems to back up this approach. Naps have been shown to improve energy, productivity, cognitive functioning and health.

Professor Matthew Walker from UC Berkeley has found that a biphasic sleep schedule (sleeping at night and also during the day) not only helps with mental recovery and regeneration, but can make you smarter as well!

But there is a catch, and it has to do with those 90-minute sleep cycles we’ve been talking about. In 90 minutes, we generally pass through REM, stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, stage 4, then backwards through stages 3, 2, 1 and into REM again.

If you want to have a rejuvenating nap, go for a short 15 minute power nap so that you wake up before falling into the deeper levels of sleep. Or alternately, allow yourself the full 90 minutes to complete all the sleep cycles. Anything in between can make you drowsier.

Some companies are optimizing happy napping. Nike, Apple, Google and Deloitte Consulting encourage employees to add a power nap to their daily routines!

Pick from the “nap menu” below when you seek happy napping:

1. The micro-nap (2-5 minutes) - Helps to decrease sleepiness and improves mental performance.

2. The mini-nap (10 minutes) - Improves mental and physical performance, decreases fatigue.

3. The power nap (20 minutes) - Improves alertness and energy and has the added bonus of also improving memory.

4. The I-feel-like-hell nap (30 minutes) - Makes you feel groggy and foggy - go back to sleep!

5. The full-cycle nap (90 minutes) - This one includes all the sleep cycles and is like a mini-full night’s sleep. Great for memory and creativity, if you have the time. The added bonus here is that there is some growth hormone released, which repairs muscle and bones. So if you had a hard workout in the morning, then this is the nap for you.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Jet Lag Key 4: Make Time for Physical Activity

Jet Lag Key 4: Make Time for Physical Activity

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Physical activity can help combat jet lag and travel fatigue by boosting your physical and mental energy, and by helping you to adjust your circadian rhythm.

2. Exercising outside in the morning is the best way to synchronize your internal clock to your new time zone. 

3. If you're too tired after a shift, even a short stretching routine in your hotel room or walk helps - just get moving!

You’ve got a lot going on: work, family, friends and hobbies like gardening, writing, fishing, cooking, whatever you’re into. Not to mention that Netflix series you’re dialled into. So after a long shift – or a long week – exercise might be the last thing on your mind. 

While you might not feel like going straight from the airport to the treadmill, here are several reasons why physical activity can help with shift work, travel fatigue, and the jet lag that comes with longer continental or intercontinental flights:

1. Physical activity not only improves physical function but also concentration, alertness and mood. So if you’re feeling groggy after a shift but want to fit in some personal activities (dinner out, time with spouse, playing with kids), exercise (like a light walk, jog, bike or yoga) will actually boost your physical and mental energy. 

2. Physical activity of any sort that coincides with bright light exposure (ideally daylight) is a time giver – an external factor capable of regulating internal rhythms. That means that exercise can help induce phase changes in your circadian rhythm, helping you adjust after work shifts that don’t fit the nine-five norm. In other words, use bright-light exercise to get you back on a regular 24-hour cycle if you’ve been working different shifts.

3. If you do travel afar for pleasure or end up working shifts that cross many time zones, working up a light sweat in the morning as the sun comes up in your new time zone might be helpful. Current studies suggest gentle exercise in the morning of a new time zone may be effective in synchronizing your internal rhythms to the local time faster.

-9.jpg

What type of exercise should you do if you’re out of synch from shift work or travel?

Exercising in the morning outdoors is the best option. The physical activity in combination with natural light will tell your body that it’s time to wake up. In a study by M. Shiota and colleagues, pilots who performed moderate to heavy exercise before and after an eight-hour time difference flight were better adapted to the local time zone. 

Obviously, you’re not generally crossing so many time zones in your current position. But the study lets us know that exercise plus daylight can make you more alert and wakeful when you feel draggy after a shift but want to get on with all the other things in life that you enjoy.

If exercising outdoors is not an option, you can try this 20-minute body weight workout. It will get your blood pumping and activate your muscles: https://www.thewellsgroup.co/20-min-base-training-workout. It doesn’t require any equipment so you can do it at home, at a hotel gym, or even in your hotel room.

The important thing is to just get moving. If you’re too tired to do anything strenuous, even a walk outside will help. And make sure you exercise during the day rather than right before bed, which can perk you up when you need that restoring sleep.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Sleep Better Keys 3-4: Final Setting of the Stage

Sleep Better Keys 3-4: Final Setting of the Stage

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Here are the next two keys for sleeping soundly.

2. Key 3: Your sleep cave should be dark. As you've learned, melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy, is released when it's dark. So make sure your bedroom (or sleep cave) is as dark as possible. This means using blackout curtains when possible, covering up the light from your alarm clock, and getting rid of screens in your bedroom.

3. Key 4: Be Cool. Increased melatonin levels cause a natural cooling of your body temperature by 0.3-0.4 degrees Celsius, which helps you fall asleep. So keep your room at 19 degrees C (or cooler) to promote drowsiness. 

Sleeping better makes life better. It is really is that simple! You can be calmer, happier, more creative and smarter just by getting at least 7.5 hours of quality sleep every night. So remember sleep keys #1 and #2 – saving caffeine for the morning and defending your last hour before sleep –  as we keep talking about better sleep. Here is the final setting of the stage.

Key #3: Your sleep cave should be dark

I want you to have a place in your home or hotel room that is fantastic for rest and recovery. Think of it as a peaceful zone where you go to crash out after rocking the world all day. This will be your sleep cave – formerly known as your bedroom or hotel room. Whether at home or travelling, you can create the perfect zone for sleep.

You know that melatonin is very sensitive to light. The pineal gland which produces melatonin responds to light via neurons that project from your eyes, so it’s important to eliminate all light in your bedroom. You want more melatonin in your system before bed, not less. 

That means your sleep cave needs to be dark. Really dark. Even the light from your alarm clock is enough to reduce your melatonin levels. Little things like covering up your alarm clock light or getting dark curtains for your windows will help. Some hotel rooms are great for this – though you may have to unplug or turn around any appliances that give off light. Night lights are also not great, and any middle of the night excursions to the bathroom as best handled under cloak of darkness!

Sleep 9.jpeg

Remember, this also means getting rid of your screens if you have them in the bedroom. Television, tablets and mobile phones all compromise your ability to fall asleep. I realize this can be a huge change for you, but having a light that flashes at you at 240 frames per second is a surefire way to keep you from falling asleep.

Light Therapy Tip: Install f.lux on your computer to cut blue light emissions later in the day. If you have iOS then activate the night shift feature, and if you use Android then try the Twilight app!

Key #4: Be cool

In the evening, increased melatonin levels cause the blood vessels in the skin to dilate, cooling the body by 0.3–0.4 degrees Celsius. This cooling promotes drowsiness and helps us fall asleep. 

So in addition to keeping your sleep cave really dark, you also want it to be cool to promote and maintain sleep.

If you are having a hard time falling asleep, have a warm bath followed by a cool shower to decrease your body temperature slightly. Then make sure your room is at the most 19 degrees C (you could go cooler if that suits you). This procedure mimics the effect of melatonin and will knock you out every time.

If you find yourself waking up because you’re too cold or too hot, just adjust your room temperature and your blankets until you find the right combination to keep you cool and comfortable all night!

As an added bonus: research has even suggested that sleeping in a cool room might help you prevent diabetes, have healthier sugar metabolism and stay leaner. 

So those are keys #3 and #4 for better sleep: go dark and stay cool!

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Jet Lag Key 3: Proper Hydration and Nutrition

Jet Lag Key 3: Proper Hydration and Nutrition

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Symptoms of jet lag, shift work, and travel fatigue are not just due to changes in our circadian rhythm. They can also come about from dehydration and poor diet that accompany frequent travel. Fortunately, it’s possible to minimize these symptoms by taking care of your hydration and nutrition.  

2. You experience significant fluid loss, and accompanied loss of electrolytes, while flying. It's important to drink 500 ml of water (with electrolytes if possible) for every 2 hours of flying. 

3. Poor nutrition is likely a regular occurrence due to irregular meal schedules and limited food availability on planes and in airports. Simple changes to your diet can have a big effect on how fast you recover from meal disruptions and jet lag.

As we’ve been discussing over the past few weeks, shift work and long-distance travel can cause the desynchronization of internal and external cues. Basically, there are times when the outside world of time, light levels and work does not match what’s happening inside us. A night shift is a perfect example of this, and of course so is crossing time zones. Being out of sync can bring about various unpleasant symptoms such as daytime tiredness when working, nighttime alertness when it’s time to sleep, mood disturbances and decreased physical and mental performance.

However, symptoms of jet lag, travel fatigue or shift work are not solely due to changes in our natural circadian rhythm. They can also come about from dehydration and poor diet. It’s possible to minimize these factors while at work (and when traveling for pleasure as well).

1) Proper hydration 

Even in a pressurized cabin, crew and customers alike experience significant fluid loss due to the change in altitude. This is accompanied by a loss of electrolytes, including sodium, making it important to drink fluids with electrolytes – before, during and after a flight. I generally recommend that you drink 500 ml of water for each 2 hours that you are flying. So, or flights up to 2 hours, 500 ml, from 2-4 hours 1 litre, etc… This is to make sure your physical and mental health and performance aren’t compromised when traveling - and staying properly hydrated is one way to combat this.

In addition to dehydration, air travel is accompanied by other negative side effects. Dry air inside the cabin can have an impact on the upper respiratory tract, making it more prone to airborne germs. Staying hydrated keeps your upper airways moist which helps the immune system to work better. 

2.3.4 (1).jpeg

2) Proper nutrition

Proper nutrition is another factor that can relieve some of the unpleasant side effects of shift work and air travel. Many of you have probably experienced some poor nutrition options because of irregular meal schedules and limited food availability on planes and in airports. Simple changes to your regular routine can have a big effect on how fast you recover from meal disruptions and restricted offerings. 

The takeaway here is that all of the discomforts of shift work and air travel are not only owing to disruptions to your internal clock. Basic food and drink issues also arise in your line of work. Act on some of the tips from today to enhance your wellbeing and live up to your incredible potential!

Today's POWER-UP: Tips for before, during, and after work shifts

1. Bring healthy snacks on the plane such as nuts, fruit, vegetables and a refillable water bottle.

2. Whenever possible, bring your own food. I know that’s not always possible on longer trips but you might be able to bring enough to cover the first few legs of your trip

3. Avoid coffee and alcohol (to avoid dehydration and performance decrements).

4. On any longer flights, adjust to the local time meal schedule once you arrive in the new time zone.

5. If you have to eat before bedtime, avoid meals that are high in fat, fibre, or protein, instead favouring fruits and vegetables.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Sleep Better Keys 1-2: Setting the Stage

Sleep Better Keys 1-2: Setting the Stage

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Over the next few weeks, we'll outline the 7 keys to sleeping soundly - whether it's while you're working or on your days off.

2. Key 1: Save your caffeine for the morning (or at the beginning of your shift if you're working at night). Limit your caffeine consumption to 200 mg per day and make sure you don't have caffeine within 8 hours of when you'd like to go to sleep.

3. Key 2: Defend your last hour. Stay away from screens - this includes TV, your computer and your phone one hour before you'd like to go to sleep. That bright light is stimulating your brain, keeping you wired, and inhibiting the production of melatonin. One idea is to read in bed, preferably fiction. It calms the mind and activates parts of your brain that you will use to fall asleep and dream. 

With work schedules, family and general life demands, there are some weeks when you may feel like you are just getting by. By sleeping soundly, we can strengthen our bodies and minds, enhance our mental and physical health and live up to our potential. 

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be offering seven keys to sleeping better. As always, given your line of work, you’ll need to use these keys to support alertness during work shifts and deep rest before and after. For example, I’ll talk about how to manage mornings and evenings, as if you’re on a normal 24-hour day/work and night/sleep schedule. Some days you will be and some days you won’t. So you’ll need to consider “morning” as “before my work shift” and “night” as “after work, when I need to rest and sleep.” You’re no doubt experts in making those mental shifts!

Onward to the first two keys of sleeping better.  

Key #1: Save your caffeine for the morning

Caffeine promotes blood flow to the brain which increases memory and concentration. It encourages oxygen delivery to the body, making exercise feel easier, and acts as an antioxidant which heals damaged tissue. However, it’s not the caffeine per se that does that antioxidant work. It’s the phytonutrients from the teas or the coffee beans, dissolved in the water, that can have that powerful effect. The problem is, while there are health benefits from tea and coffee, too much caffeine can promote anxiety and insomnia. So where is the line between improving or damaging a sense of wellbeing?

The general rule is that 200 mg of caffeine per day is safe for most people (that equates to about 1-2 10-ounce coffees or 2-3 cups of black tea). Another rule to follow is if you want to sleep well at night, skip the caffeine eight hours before you fall asleep. So if you want to go to bed at 10 pm, don’t have caffeine after 2 pm. And remember to watch out for other sneaky sources of caffeine. Decaf java can have up to 20 milligrams of caffeine in a cup, and tea, pop, chocolate, weight-loss products, pain relievers, energy drinks and even some cold and flu medications are all to be avoided for a good sleep.

Key #2: Defend your last hour

Have you ever had an exhausting day, then in the hour before you’re going to bed you find your mind racing even though your body is tired? You’re not alone. Calming down in the hours before you want to fall asleep is crucial. 

Researcher Mari Hysling from the Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare in Bergen, Norway published a population-based study on 9,846 adolescents and showed that there was a dose-response relationship between the amount of time spent using electronic devices during the day and sleep duration, time to fall asleep, and sleep efficiency. Basically, the more adolescents used their electronic devices during the day, the less they slept and the worse their sleep was.

This is also true for adults. Screen time makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Of course, you’ll be on some screens during the day and in evenings. But less is more – and much less before bed is much more. 

So here are my two suggestions for defending your last hour before sleep:

1) Stay away from the TV, your computer and your phone. That bright light is stimulating your brain, keeping you wired, and inhibiting the production of melatonin. Not good for sleep!

2) Read in bed, preferably fiction. Reading is great for you. It calms the mind and activates parts of your brain that you will use to fall asleep and dream. Your book (not on a screen) should have a story – something that requires your imagination. When you’re done with it, pass it on to a colleague! Have fun sharing your favourite reads.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Jet Lag Key 2: Grab a Bottle of Melatonin

Jet Lag Key 2: Grab a Bottle of Melatonin

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. During our typical 24-hour cycle, when the sun goes down at night, melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland, causing us to feel sleepy. 

2. When we change time zones or are exposed to light at nighttime during a work shift, our system becomes disrupted. 

3. Melatonin supplementation can be extremely helpful to overcome jet lag and nighttime work hours. Taking melatonin in the afternoon and early evening causes phase advance (you get tired sooner), while taking it in the late night or early morning causes phase delay (you get tired later). 

4. As a safety precaution, you shouldn't take melatonin within 24 hours of a flight.

In your line of work, you’re likely familiar with melatonin – either having tried it yourself or heard about it from friends or colleagues trying to improve their sleep. When it comes to jet lag or just travel fatigue – which, paradoxically, can leave a person wired and restless while also exhausted – adding melatonin to your sleep protocol could be very effective.


SAFETY NOTE: We recommend NOT taking melatonin for 24 hours before a flight to be safe and make sure that you are not experiencing any drowsiness which can occur. Here is a quote from the FAA:

"Recently, the use of melatonin has been promoted, through the media, as a way to assist with circadian fatigue and jet lag. While studies have demonstrated some benefit from its use, they have also indicated drawbacks from the sedative and hypnotic effects. Additionally, melatonin ingested at the incorrect time may further desynchronize an already troubled circadian rhythm through the addition of another cue. Therefore, it is cautioned that melatonin should not be taken within 24 hours of flying, and professional guidance in the proper use of this neurohormone sought to achieve maximum benefit without adverse reaction. (Sanders DC, Chaturvedi AK, Hordinsky JR (1998). Aeromedical Aspects of Melatonin-An Overview. Washington DC: DOT/FAA/AM-98/10)"

Reference: https://www.faa.gov/pilots/training/airman_education/topics_of_interest/tired/


First, let’s look at the science. I believe deeply that people are better off with a real understanding of biological processes rather than just following a recommendation. Knowledge is power, so let’s do it!

Sleep 5.jpeg

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in response to cyclically dimming light (like the sun going down) and falling body temperature. As mentioned already, when darkness falls during our typical 24-hour cycle, our body temperature lowers and our melatonin levels increase, producing sleepiness. This works well when we’re hanging out in one time zone or not altering our sleep cycle because of scheduling demands. But when we change time zones or are exposed to light at nighttime during a work shift when we would normally be heading to sleep, our system becomes disrupted. For example, at home, heading toward bed, you experience darkness outside and can also soften your own lights to transition to sleep. But if you’re spending time in a busy, brightly-lit air terminal right before heading home or to a hotel, you may be low in melatonin and find it hard to fall into a drowsy state.

Research shows that melatonin supplementation can be an exceptionally helpful tool in overcoming jet lag and nighttime work hours by helping regulate the circadian system. Melatonin acts on the body’s clock genes by means of the SCN (internal circadian clock) and promotes that elusive sleep experienced by frequent travelers. Taking 0.5-3 mg of melatonin two-three hours before local bedtime has been shown to help resynchronize circadian oscillators while improving nighttime sleep and alertness during the day. My general suggestion is 3 mg, 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep.

As mentioned, sleep is normally initiated during the falling phase of body temperature and the rising phase of melatonin secretion. Our melatonin levels are highest in the late evening. This means that taking melatonin in the afternoon and early evening causes phase advance (you get tired sooner), while taking it in the late night or early morning causes phase delay (you get tired later). 

Of course, you have to align your work demands with your need for sleep. You don’t want to take melatonin before you start a work shift, as that’s when you need to be alert and highly productive. The effects of melatonin that you take exogenously also last for up to 6 hours, so be careful not to take melatonin too close to the start of a shift. So every day might be a bit different when it comes to melatonin supplementation, depending on your schedule. 

Remember: travelling for work and for leisure require different approaches to melatonin supplementation. You want to be energized while on shift but be able to sleep after unusual situations, like being exposed to bright light at air terminals. You need to avoid melatonin supplementation during work hours, only using it after your shift to promote sleep. 

Today’s POWER-UP: Talk to your doctor about possibly using melatonin 

While taking exogenous melatonin may help with jet lag or falling asleep, possible side effects from melatonin include daytime sleepiness, dizziness, headache and loss of appetite. It’s always advised talk to your doctor before taking it and to start with a low dose to see how it affects you. 

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Sleep to Learn and Create

Sleep to Learn and Create

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. We have 80-100 billion neurons and each neuron has hundreds to thousands of connections to other neurons. When we sleep, the neurons make new connections (called synapses) between each other.  

2. NREM sleep is for mental recovery and learning - when we make memories so we can retain all that new information we gathered during the day.

3. REM sleep is for creativity - when we encode procedural memories like how to perform a new physical skill or mental process.

It’s clear that poor sleep causes health problems and great sleep can help you live a healthy disease-free life. But sleep also has a powerful effect on mental performance. Obviously, there is a huge mental element to managing the art and science of flights, from piloting to safety and comfort. And there is daily learning that comes with new situations.

Here’s how sleeping better can help you learn better, be more creative and improve your mental game – on the job and in your life. 

The main stages of sleep – NREM and REM, each have different effects on our ability to learn and create. Professor Vincent Walsh from the University College of London has described the deep, slow wave sleep that happens earlier in the night as being crucial for encoding of information and facts that we encountered during the day. NREM sleep seems to be when we make memories so we can retain all that new information we gathered during the day. The second half of the night – when we are in REM sleep – is when we encode procedural memories like how to perform a new physical skill or mental process. It is also when we do subconscious creative problem solving.

Simply, the first half of sleep is for mental recovery and learning, and the second half is for physical recovery and creativity.

Sleep Soundly to Be More Creative

When we sleep, neurons in our brains make new connections (called synapses) between each other. We have 80-100 billion neurons and each neuron has hundreds to thousands of connections to other neurons. The key is that the growth of new neurons and the new connections happens at night while we sleep. So if you want to ensure that you are being as creative as you can, that you can solve difficult problems, or come up with new ways of performing a task, then sleep should be at the top of your list of priorities.

Recently, REM sleep has been identified as an incredibly creative state. In a study at the University of California-San Diego, researchers found that REM sleep “directly enhances creative processing more than any other sleep or wake state…We found that, for creative problems that you’ve already been working on, the passage of time is enough to find solutions. However, for new problems, only REM sleep enhances creativity.” Wow - that’s good to know. REM sleep is what allows us to find creative solutions to new problems. 

Sleep Soundly to Learn Better

Pulling an all-nighter to get ready for exams is common. In a school that I visited, a Principal told me that many of the students show up in the morning with an array of energy drinks after staying up late studying. This is hardly a health-building approach! Imagine if we taught all our kids how to sleep better? What would happen to our learning as a nation?

I’ve said we do our learning at night, when our brain is building new connections called synapses. Scientists in China and the US have recently used a microscope to witness those new synapses being formed in the brain during deep and sustained sleep. What exactly did they see? In short, they watched the brain building memories. Envisioning this process may motivate you to improve your sleep: it’s like your fingers reaching toward each other and then becoming entwined as your clasp your hands together. Your fingers are the synapses that join your two palms, which are the neurons. In the study mentioned, researchers saw the brain replay the day’s activity like a movie and build new connections between neurons.

To sum up: our mental lives are richer and better when we sleep well, which makes all the other aspects of our lives better: our work, relationships, favourite pastimes. Who wants to be more creative and hold onto what’s been learned every day? You do!

Today's POWER-UP: Read Fiction Before Sleep

1. Before you fall asleep at night, read books, preferably fiction. It calms the mind and activates parts of the brain that you use to fall asleep and dream. Your books should have a story (i.e. not be work related) – ideally something that requires your imagination. When you're done your book - pass it on!

2. E-readers make it easy to take books with you when you travel, but they do send light into your eyes and confuse your brain about when it should release the chemicals that help us fall asleep. Ideally, pick up a paper-printed book, and it is best to read by a small bedside light. If you do use an e-reader, make sure you set brightness to the lowest setting and activate night shift to get rid of the blue light.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Jet Lag Key 1: Time Your Light Exposure

Jet Lag Key 1: Time Your Light Exposure

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Jet lag is a desynchronization between internal and external cues. The culprits of this desynchrozation lie in the brain and are known as the suprachiasmic nuclei (SCN). 

2. The SCN is hugely affected by sunlight. Therefore, critically timed light exposure may help ease jet lag symptoms and speed up circadian synchronization.

3. Natural light exposure is the ideal mechanism for counteracting jet lag. However, light therapy (including a light box, lamp, or light visor) is an effective alternative.

4. Light exposure in the morning advances your circadian rhythms (you’ll sleep earlier), while light exposure in the evening delays them (you’ll sleep later).

I’m going to offer several tips or keys to lessening jet lag over the next few weeks. As professionals who cross time zones, you may know some of these. My goal is to explain the science behind the solutions and offer as many options as I can to support your health, which includes getting quality sleep.

The first key is to time your light exposure.

Jet lag arrises when there is a desynchronization between internal and external cues. The culprits of this desynchrozation lie in the brain – specifically the hypothalamus – and are known as the suprachiasmic nuclei (SCN). These nuclei regulate circadian oscillators by using visual information sent from the retina.

The SCN is hugely affected by sunlight. Therefore, light exposure unassumingly plays a massive role in the synchronization of our biological rhythms to external time by altering clock genes. Research indicates that critically timed light exposure of sufficient intensity may help ease jet lag symptoms and speed up circadian synchronization. More specifically, light exposure during or near our body’s cyclical minimum core temperature (all of us cool down during the 24-hour cycle) produces the greatest phase shifts.

Natural light exposure is the ideal mechanism for counteracting jet lag. However, for individuals who travel a lot, light therapy (including a light box, lamp, or light visor) is an effective alternative.

jet lag image.jpg

How does it work?

Light exposure at your lowest body core temperature (usually the middle of the night at home) and light avoidance at your highest core temperature (usually mid day at home) serves to essentially stop your circadian clock. Light exposure will also inhibit the release of melatonin: the more light, the less melatonin we produce. We get sleepy in the evening when the sun goes down because darkness stimulates melatonin. These biological rhythms operate in concert. For this reason, exposure to bright light coupled with melatonin use at the right time has been effectively shown to alleviate jet lag by synching our bodies to destination time faster (we’ll discuss melatonin supplementation in the next post).

How do I time my light exposure?

Light exposure in the morning will advance your circadian rhythms (you’ll sleep earlier), while light exposure in the evening will delay them (you’ll sleep later).

Eastward travel generally causes difficulty in falling asleep due to phase advances (your body is behind the local time zone) while westward travel interferes with sleep maintenance due to phase delays (your body is ahead of the local time zone).

EASTWARD TRAVEL

If you are travelling eastward, try advancing your sleep time by one hour per night three days prior to travel, and expose yourself to bright light upon rising. Upon reaching your destination, work to advance your rhythms (helping you to get to sleep earlier) by exposing yourself to morning and afternoon light and avoiding evening light at your destination. Expose yourself to bright light earlier by one hour per day at your destination to continue fostering adjustment throughout your trip.

WESTWARD TRAVEL

If you are travelling westward, try delaying your sleep time by one hour per night three days prior to travel. Upon reaching your destination, it is suggested that you delay your rhythms by exposing yourself to evening light and avoiding exposure in the early morning.

Today's POWER-UP: Summary of how to time your light exposure

1. If you're travelling east across time zones, you should get to bed earlier than usual for three days before you leave.

2. If you're travelling west across time zones, you should get to bed later than usual for three days before you leave.

3. Either way, help yourself to change your sleep patterns by using or avoiding bright light as you make the adjustments.


SAFETY NOTE: We recommend NOT taking melatonin for 24 hours before a flight to be safe and make sure that you are not experiencing any drowsiness which can occur. Here is a quote from the FAA:

"Recently, the use of melatonin has been promoted, through the media, as a way to assist with circadian fatigue and jet lag. While studies have demonstrated some benefit from its use, they have also indicated drawbacks from the sedative and hypnotic effects. Additionally, melatonin ingested at the incorrect time may further desynchronize an already troubled circadian rhythm through the addition of another cue. Therefore, it is cautioned that melatonin should not be taken within 24 hours of flying, and professional guidance in the proper use of this neurohormone sought to achieve maximum benefit without adverse reaction. (Sanders DC, Chaturvedi AK, Hordinsky JR (1998). Aeromedical Aspects of Melatonin-An Overview. Washington DC: DOT/FAA/AM-98/10)"

Reference: https://www.faa.gov/pilots/training/airman_education/topics_of_interest/tired/


The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Why Do We Sleep?

Why Do We Sleep?

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. During the night, we cycle through 90-minute sleep cycles. 75% of our time sleeping is spent in the Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) stage and 25% is spent in the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage. 

2. Both NREM and REM are important. NREM sleep is when we recover our energy levels, when our nervous system recovers and regenerates, and when our tissues are repaired. REM sleep is when we establish new connections between neurons in the brain.

3. Sleeping better has endless benefits. It decreases our risk of a heart attack, improves our immune system, helps manage chronic pain, makes us smarter, helps us lose fat, helps us recover faster from training, and can even help us survive cancer. 

“Society is learning how important sleep is and how dangerous sleep deprivation is. We’re teaching our players: Sleep is a weapon.” – Sam Ramsden, Director of Player Health & Performance, Seattle Seahawks.

The foundation of human health and performance is sleeping soundly. To put it quite simply: a better life is possible with better sleep.

What is Sleep?

People often think of sleep as a time of rest where the body and mind shut down. It is true that it’s a dormant state when the activity of our brain’s cortex reduces by 40%. But sleep is not a passive process. While you’re asleep, there is a lot going on to help you recover, restore and rebuild your body and brain. Sleep is a highly active metabolic process that helps to optimize our brain structure, repair damaged cells, and restore energy levels.

Each night, we cycle through different stages of sleep in approximately 90 minute cycles. Seventy-five percent of our night’s sleep is in the Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) stage where our body and muscles relax, temperature and blood pressure drops, heart rate and breath rate come down, and cells and tissues grow and repair. The other 25% is called the rapid eye movement (REM) stage wherein our brain is active, energy is supplied to our body, and our eyes dart back and forth. Both NREM and REM are critical for the optimal recovery and regeneration of our bodies and our brains.

NREM sleep is when we recover our energy levels and when our nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves that connect to muscles and organs) recovers and regenerates. During NREM sleep, anabolic hormones are released that repair tissues and stabilize our energy levels. REM sleep is equally important, as it is when we establish new connections between neurons in the brain. That means that the learning that happens during the day becomes embedded and stored in our memory overnight. One of the many downsides to poor or inadequate sleep is that it makes it hard to retain what we learn – we simply lose some of the new stuff we picked up during the day.

Sleep and Your Health

Optimal health starts with sleep. You can set yourself up for success in all aspects of your life by improving your sleep. Sleeping better decreases your risk of a heart attack. It improves your mood and energy. It improves the immune system, keeping you from getting sick and can even help you survive cancer. It helps manage chronic pain. And as mentioned, it makes you smarter, as you hold onto all you day’s learning. Imagine if someone developed a drug that could do all that! It would be hailed the miracle of our lifetime. Whoever developed it would win the Nobel Prize.

There are even more benefits. Sleeping soundly can help you lose fat, recover faster from training, clean your brain, and be better at solving problems. If you exercise, sleep is when your muscles repair and grow. 

The nature of your work in the airline industry is pretty demanding. When you add that to your personal interests – raising a family, taking a course, training for a race, writing a novel, or whatever else makes your life uniquely yours – the health and wellness value of sleep is ramped up even more.

We’re going to spend some time exploring the relationship between sleep and health in a bit more detail.

Dive Deeper: Wash Your Brain!

Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at Rochester Medical Center, has shown that during sleep, the size of neurons in the brain is reduced by up to 60%.

This creates lots of space between your brain cells. Then during sleep, the glymphatic system cleans the metabolic waste from the microscopic spaces between the neurons.

You wash your body, hair and clothes – now, we know you need to wash your brain. It’s a great image to carry around: wake up every morning knowing that your brains cells have been showered up and your mind is literally cleared for another day!

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

What is Jet Lag?

What is Jet Lag?

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

Key Points:

1. Your body has a natural circadian rhythm, an internal biological clock which regulates sleep, eating patterns, mood, hormone regulation, and everything your body does during the day.

2. Jet lag is a misalignment between this internal clock and external cues, such as light exposure. This can lead to reduced alertness, nighttime insomnia, loss of appetite, depressed mood, poor balance and coordination, gastrointestinal upset, fatigue, cloudy thinking, and decreased physical and mental performance.

3. Fortunately, there are several tricks of the trade we will share with you to help combat jet lag and live your best life!

Humans experience fluctuations in mood, sleep, hormones, body temperature and behaviour depending on the time of the day. But how exactly does our body regulate this? 

In 1984, Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young isolated the period gene which encodes a protein accumulated in the cell during the day and degraded at night. This 24-hour biological clock is commonly referred to as the circadian rhythm. Many of our genes are regulated by this internal clock, causing our minds and bodies to adapt to different phases of the day.

Ideally, in a body that is adjusted to its local time zone, the body’s circadian rhythms behave as follows:

• Melatonin secretion peaks at night, and decreases throughout the day

• Cortisol levels peak in the morning, and decrease throughout the day

• Core body temperature reaches its lowest peak in the middle of the night and rises throughout the day

• Clock genes promote activity in the daytime and recovery during the night.

biological clock.jpg

The circadian clock anticipates and adapts our physiology to the different phases of the day. Our biological clock helps to regulate sleep patterns, feeding behaviour, hormone release, blood pressure, and body temperature. From https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2017/press.html

Rapid travel across multiple time zones causes a temporary misalignment between biological rhythms and external cues known as zeitgebers, or “time givers.” Jet lag, or flight dysrhythmia, is essentially caused by a desynchronization between our internal circadian clock and external cues, including natural variations like the light/dark cycles in solar days.

Simply put, jet lag throws our internal rhythms out of sync with our external environment, leaving us with numerous unpleasant symptoms that you all have experienced: reduced alertness, nighttime insomnia, loss of appetite, depressed mood, poor balance and coordination, gastrointestinal upset, fatigue, cloudy thinking, and decreased physical and mental performance. The more time zones we cross, the worse our jet lag is likely to be.

All of that is a way of saying that jet lag seriously messes with our physical, mental and emotional wellness. As an airline employee, you are subjected to time changes on a frequent basis, and these symptoms are likely all too familiar. 

Jet lag can also be made worse by travel fatigue and the general stresses associated with long trips. In fact, pilots often complain that their fatigue is due to not only time zone transitions, but also to sleep deprivation, time pressure, multiple flight legs, and consecutive duty periods. So how do we support health with all these factors?

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take you through the five keys that will help you combat both jet lag and travel fatigue. 

Today's POWER-UP: Try Yoga for a Deeper Sleep

1. START WITH UJJAYI BREATHING FOR A FEW MINUTES TO RELAX AND ACTIVATE YOUR PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM.

2. THEN MOVE THROUGH HEAD TO KNEE FORWARD BENDCHILD POSE, AND CORPSE POSE.

THAT SEQUENCE WORKS WONDERS FOR CALMING THE BODY AND MIND AND SETTING YOU UP FOR A DEEP, RESTFUL SLEEP.


SAFETY NOTE: We recommend NOT taking melatonin for 24 hours before a flight to be safe and make sure that you are not experiencing any drowsiness which can occur. Here is a quote from the FAA:

"Recently, the use of melatonin has been promoted, through the media, as a way to assist with circadian fatigue and jet lag. While studies have demonstrated some benefit from its use, they have also indicated drawbacks from the sedative and hypnotic effects. Additionally, melatonin ingested at the incorrect time may further desynchronize an already troubled circadian rhythm through the addition of another cue. Therefore, it is cautioned that melatonin should not be taken within 24 hours of flying, and professional guidance in the proper use of this neurohormone sought to achieve maximum benefit without adverse reaction. (Sanders DC, Chaturvedi AK, Hordinsky JR (1998). Aeromedical Aspects of Melatonin-An Overview. Washington DC: DOT/FAA/AM-98/10)"

Reference: https://www.faa.gov/pilots/training/airman_education/topics_of_interest/tired/


The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Welcome to Sleep Soundly!

Welcome to Sleep Soundly!

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

Key Points:

1. In today's society, we no longer sleep and wake according to the sun's cycle. Not to mention, in your line of work, you have to deal with irregular hours, traveling to different time zones, and sleeping in hotels. 

2. The good news - there are many tricks you can use to combat jet lag and travel fatigue to optimize your sleep, wellbeing, and performance. We're going to explore these concepts in this module.

For most of history, humans have woken up and gone to sleep based on the sun’s cycle. But our current situation is much different. Many of us work indoors, exposed to fluorescent lights during the day. In the evenings, we watch a bright TV and look at computer, tablet or mobile phone screens. You have the even bigger challenge of working shifts, travelling across time-zones, sleeping in hotels, double lay-overs, and short turn-arounds between flights, among many others!

Sleep Intro.jpeg

More specifically: you have irregular work hours, often work through the night, and travel to different time zones which can cause jet lag (we'll deal with that in our next post). Not to mention there are general stresses associated with long trips such as cramped environments, restricted food choices, and dehydration due to dry cabin air and cabin hypoxia. 

So how do we break this cycle? How can we help you take action so that you can get healthier and stay healthy?

The good news is that the effects of both travel fatigue and jet lag can be lessened using a few simple tricks.

We have also learned a great deal about the science of sleep. We've learned about what sleep does for the body and brain, how much sleep we need per 24-hour cycle, how to use naps to improve your health and specific strategies you can use to make sure you sleep as well as you can.

We’ll spend the next month going into detail on how simple approaches can improve sleep, reduce jet lag, and optimize your energy, health and performance.

So that’s our topic for this module: getting the sleep you need to live a healthy life. Together, we’re going to fight back and reclaim sleep. Once you are sleeping soundly, pretty much everything in your life will get better.

Today's POWER-UP: The Transition Ritual

I’D LIKE YOU TO CREATE A TRANSITION RITUAL AND USE IT TO HELP YOU MAKE THE SHIFT FROM WORKING TO BEING AT HOME. FIND AN ACTIVITY THAT HELPS YOU TO MAKE THAT SHIFT.

FOR ME, IT’S WALKING DOWN TO THE PARK NEAR MY HOUSE AND RELAXING ON A BENCH FOR FIVE MINUTES BEFORE WALKING HOME. TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO WALK, LISTEN TO MUSIC, OR MAKE A CALL TO A FRIEND ON THE WAY HOME.

THE KEY IS TO MAKE SURE THAT WHEN YOU ARRIVE HOME, YOU’RE NOT STILL AT WORK.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation.