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Science Might Have Finally Found A Cure For Jet Lag

Science Might Have Finally Found A Cure For Jet Lag

Ah jet lag, our old friend. While there’s plenty of theories out there that claim to be the best remedy for beating this unwelcome side affect to travel – drinking heaps of water, drinking heaps of beers, over sleeping, under sleeping or even this handy app – none so far have come backed up with any serious scientific authority. Until now, that is.

A study by Stanford University researchers has found an effective way to delay or even completely reduce the effects of jet lag. The lengthy study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, found that being exposed to short flashes of light while sleeping can work to reset the circadian system, a.k.a. your body’s internal clock.


In recent years there’s been advancements in so-called “light therapies” which have seen many weary travellers exposing themselves to bright lights for hours at a time in the lead up to ’round the world travel. While there seemed to be some advantages when it came to battling jet lag, this new study seems to show that short flashes of light during sleep are way more effective than sitting in front of an artificial light for a few hours – and a whole lot easier on eyes, apparently.

During the clinical trial, 39 participants were exposed to around 60 minutes of either continuous or flashing light while sleeping. When it came to adjusting one’s internal clock, two-millisecond flashes of light screened 10 seconds apart resulted in a two-hour delay in the onset of sleepiness. For those using continuous light treatment, the delay was only 36 minutes.

As jet lag occurs when your sleeping patterns aren’t matched with your internal clock, these flashes effectively fool the brain into thinking you’re awake, and can even train the brain to adjust quicker to time changes.

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As well as helping with jet lag, intermittent light was also proven to help treat sleep and mood disorders. While this kind of light treatment isn’t readily available to the public just yet, keep your (drowsy) eyes open for announcements soon – or you could just try some kind of Macgyver hack using your phone’s camera flash? We’re just hoping it’ll finally help us keep our eyes open and legs stable the next time we’re walking through the Guggenheim.

(h/t CN Traveller)

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