The fact that we can travel to the other side of the world in a day is amazing, but the one annoyance that tends to accompany such a feat is the blight of the dreaded jet lag. A cure may finally be in sight however, as a study has shed new light into the condition and could hopefully lead to a solution.
Jet lag is a disturbed pattern of the sleep and wakefulness cycle, and sufferers can find themselves worn out and tired for several days after arriving to and from a different time zone. This is generally accompanied by a lack of concentration and motivation, especially for any activity that requires effort or skill, and it can even cause nausea and indigestion.
It arises because our body clocks are regulated by a cluster of brain cells known as circadian rhythms that control the timing of biological functions, and these get disturbed following long-haul flights. Going east is considered to be worse than going west, and the number of intermediate stops also plays a role as each one is accompanied by changes in cabin pressure, which exacerbates jet lag.
A new study published in the Journal of Physiology has found that cells in the retina send light signals to the part of our brains controlling our biological clocks. This discovery has led to the hope that eye drops can be created that will regulate those signals and banish jet lag. “Our exciting results show a potentially new pharmacological route to manipulate our internal biological clocks,” said lead researcher, Mike Ludwig, Professor of Neurophysiology at the University of Edinburgh.
It will take a while for the eye drop cure to become a reality, so in the meantime, jet lag sufferers will have to soldier on using the tried and tested methods for dealing with the condition. These include booking a direct flight that departs during daylight, staying hydrated, trying to eat and sleep in sync with your new time zone, and spending time outdoors in natural light when you arrive.