As a resident of California, I have a five and and a half hour flight and three hour time shift every time I travel between school and home. Because of this and many other trips both domestically and abroad, I am no stranger to the dreaded effects of jet lag.
Jet lag occurs when your body’s circadian rhythm is interrupted by change in daylight hours. Your circadian rhythm controls many of your normal habits, but mainly your schedule for eating and sleeping. It si your body’s “internal clock”, and when time shifts the rhythm and schedule is interrupted leaving travelers with sleepless nights and drowsy days. But according to a new study, there may be hope for the victims of jet lag.
Scientists developed a hypothesis that oxygen levels may play a role in animal’s circadian rhythm because they observed that oxygen levels in cells would change throughout the day and night, especially when eating and sleeping. So in an experimental study with mice, scientists simulated a six hour time change and observed that the mice that experienced a small drop in oxygen level 12 hours before or two hours after adapted to the change in time significantly faster than the control mice that did not experience a change in oxygen levels.
Of course the next step of this is going to be studies done on humans, and if it proves to work it could change the experience people have while traveling greatly. In addition, airlines are interested in studies like these because there is potential for them to control the pressure in aircrafts that would result in less or no jet lag. I am hopeful that there is a way to prevent or cure jet lag, but just because the alternative hypothesis in this study was shown, humans may react differently or not at all even though mice did.