Flashing lights can beat the curse of jet-lag
By Sarah Knapton vestigation. of Clinical In-
JET-LAG can be prevented by “hacking” into the body’s circadian rhythm during sleep using a flashing alarm clock, Stanford University has discovered.
Many people suffer from the sluggish feeling after flying to a different time zone as the body struggles to reorientate itself.
But scientists have shown that it is possible for travellers to get a head start on jet-lag by tricking the body into thinking that dawn is breaking earlier.
Being subjected to short flashes of light while asleep before a trip speeds up the process of adjusting to a different time-zone, researchers have proven.
“This may be a new way of adjusting much more quickly to time changes than other methods in use today,” said Dr Jamie Zeitzer, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Stanford University in California.
Dr Zeitzer said it was a kind of “biological hacking” that convinced the brain the day had started earlier. Researchers synchronised the sleep routine of 39 people aged 19 to 36 so they were going to bed and waking up at the same time every day for about two weeks. They then had the volunteers sleep in the lab, where half were exposed to a sequence of flashes of various frequencies for an hour while asleep.
The study found that a sequence of two-millisecond flashes of light, similar to a camera flash, 10 seconds apart elicited a near two-hour difference in the onset of sleepiness the following day.
The therapy effectively creates a “false dawn” in the brain, which more closely synchronises with sunrise in a new country, if travelling from West to East.
The researchers’ work was published in the Journal