Changes in the
circadian rhythms, sleep-wake cycle, can affect an individual's mood and
productivity, making it imperative to prevent jet lag
disruption of the circadian rhythm is more pronounced
when traveling from West to East as the body can adjust better if going back in
the time zone than going forward.
‘Interventional strategies like light flashes will allay jet lag and associated health conditions.’
Researchers Raymond P. Najjar and Jamie M.
Zeitzer from Stanford University have found
a novel method for preventing jet lag using flashes of light.
participants were included in the study. These participants were woken up
during sleep by flashing moderately bright light for two milliseconds during
the second and third hour of their sleep. They studied various patterns of
exposure to light and determined optimum levels that helped in staving off jet
- Flashing light is better than
continuous exposure to bright light
- The intervention is
most effective when lights are flashed every 10 seconds for one hour
flashes of light are delivered at the beginning of the night, it delays the
rhythm which is applicable to people traveling from
east to west.
- When the flashes of light are delivered at
the end of the night, it brings forward the rhythm and is applicable to people traveling from east to west.
When light is
flashed, it triggers the cells in the retina, which transmit signals to the circadian system
to continue to fire even after the
light is switched off. Moreover, the continuous light will result in the body
getting used to the constant beam of light while light flashes will stimulate
Bright Light Stimulation for Jet Lag
Researchers Jurvelin H,
and Takala T.
studied the effect of transcranial bright light (delivered via the ear canal)
in study participants after a transatlantic flight towards the east. The study
period lasted for 7 days during which time the study participants were given
transcranial stimulation while the control group did not receive it.
The results of this study
- Improved mood
- Less drowsiness
These improvements were
witnessed among the study group which received the inter-cranial light flashes
when compared with the control group.
Obesity Post Jet Lag
Obesity is often
associated with jet lag due to the change in circadian patterns
. Oike H
and associates showed that fixed time feeding prevented obesity among mice
whose circadian rhythms were altered.
Circadian Rhythm Variation
Increases Risk for Cancer
Certain genes termed the
circadian genes are responsible for controlling the physiology of the
individual by controlling
- DNA damage repair
- Immune functions
A mutation in these
circadian genes can increase the risk
. In the absence of a circadian gene mutation, drastic and
prolonged changes in the circadian rhythm can lead to an increased risk of cancer.
This provides another compelling need for an effective method of
preventing jet lag.
Benefits of Preventing Jet
Intervention strategies that
prevent jet lag will help the body cope better and to reduce risks of cancer
and inflammatory diseases. It will also help the individual get back to regular
People who will benefit
: People who
travel long distances and are jet
, especially those who travel transatlantic from east to west
will get back to the routine faster, encouraging more travel experiences.
2. Shift workers
: People who work
in night shifts or in alternating day/night shifts can cope with the change in
schedule with effective steps to regain the circadian rhythm.
3. Business travelers and
: People who travel often or athletes who need to be
physically fit and active to face the challenges of sport require definite
: Teenagers who
are used to late nights and late mornings find it hard to get into the school
routine after a vacation or after the weekend is over.
Raymond and Jamie are working with Lumos Tech, a
technology company, to create a new device that can deliver light flashes and
which can be worn as a mask. Further, the researchers are working to develop an App for smartphones
will trigger the light flashes at the right time.
of a method that does not involve waking the patient up to alter the circadian
rhythm will benefit people. This way they will wake up feeling comfortable
rather than bleary eyed and in shock. There are other studies involved in
formulating pills to prevent jet lag
1. Raymond P. Najjar and Jamie M. Zeitzer "Temporal integration of light
flashes by the human circadian system" JCI, Feb 8th
2. Jurvelin H,
"Transcranial bright light
and symptoms of jet lag: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial." Aerosp Med Hum Perform.
3. Kettner NM,
"Circadian gene variants in
cancer" Ann Med.
4. Oike H,
prevents obesity induced by chronic advances of light/dark cycles in mouse
models of jet-lag/shift work." Biochem Biophys Res Commun.
2015 Sep 25