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Jet Lag and Circadian
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
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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