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Jet Lag Study: Flashing Light Could Help Adjust Travelers' Body Clocks

Image: Jet Lag Study: Flashing Light Could Help Adjust Travelers' Body Clocks
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By    |   Tuesday, 09 Feb 2016 02:01 PM

A new jet lag study has found that exposure to flashes of light the day before travel could help people adjust more quickly to far-flung time zones.

"That’s the novelty of this, you can basically change someone’s circadian timing while they’re still asleep and do so far more effectively than the traditional way, which involved changing your behavior in order to get light at the right time," said Jamie Zeitzer, lead study author and an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"This could be a new way of adjusting much more quickly to time changes than other methods in use today."

The study, published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, found evidence that the human eye is more sensitive to light at night, even when eyelids are closed.

Using flashing light, Zeitzer and his team believe they've achieved some level of "biological hacking" of humans' circadian rhythms.

Humans typically adjust their biological clocks at the rate of one hour per day when traveling far.

Previous studies have suggested that continuous light exposure can speed this process up, but the new study has found that flashing light could be three times as fast at helping adjust body clocks than continuous light.

During the study, 39 sleeping participants were awoken between the second and third hour of sleep, and exposed to bright, two-millisecond flashes of light.

Subsequent measurements of melatonin in the saliva showed that the flashes adjusted the participants' body clocks two hours forward, on average.

"Cells in the retina that transmit the light information to the circadian system continue to fire for several minutes after the stimulus — in this case, flashing light — is no longer there," Zietzer explained, according to Stanford.edu

"The gaps of darkness between the light flashes allow the pigments in the eye that respond to the light to regenerate — that is, go from an inactive form that cannot respond to light to an active form that is able to respond to light."

Zietzer is now doing a study on 50 teenagers to see if the flashing light technique can help them get more sleep.

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A new jet lag study has found that exposure to flashes of light the day before travel could help people adjust more quickly to far-flung time zones.
jet lag, study, flashing, light, clocks
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2016-01-09
Tuesday, 09 Feb 2016 02:01 PM
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