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Jet Lag and Circadian Rhythms

Jet Lag is a biological disruption caused by flying across time zones faster than the body can adjust. New research has shown that the root physiological causes of jet lag can be treated directly by carefully timed exposure to light and darkness.

Circadian Rhythms

Biological rhythms strongly influence virtually all plants and animals. Daily or Circadian rhythms are especially powerful, putting us to sleep at night and waking us up in the morning.

It has become clear that rapid resetting of our internal clocks is essential for the effective management of jet lag. It is possible to use the brain's sensitivity to light and darkness to accelerate the adjustments of our circadian rhythms to our new surroundings.

The Role of Light and Darkness

The most important regulator of circadian rhythms is the daily alteration of light and darkness. Under ordinary circumstances, only bright light (levels found only in natural daylight or from specially designed artificial light sources -- not in normal indoor lighting) can strongly synchronize human circadian rhythms. Thus, our internal clocks are normally kept on local time by the timing of sunrise and sunset.

Researchers have discovered that the internal clock can be quickly reset by exposing the eyes to bright light at critical times of the day. It is possible to adjust a travelers circadian rhythms to a new time zone within one day, and produce complete adaptation within about 3 days. Ordinarily, full biological adaptation could take up to 3 weeks.

The information above is extracted from New Light on Jet Lag, The Fast Way to reset Your Body Clock by Roger J. Cole, Ph.D.
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