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Travelers can avoid jet lag by resetting their body clocks

A simple, at-home treatment -- a single light box and the over-the-counter drug melatonin -- allows travelers to avoid jet lag by resetting their circadian body clock before crossing several time zones, according to new research being published in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. This treatment can also help those with delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), a persistent condition that results from a misalignment between a person's internal biological clock and the external social environment.

Both bright light and melatonin have successfully been used in laboratory and field settings to "phase advance" (resetting the circadian clock earlier in time so that all the circadian rhythms of the body occur earlier) thereby helping people adapt to night shift work or to a new time zone following rapid transmeridian jet travel. Melatonin alone has been shown to synchronize the circadian clock of the blind to the 24-hour day.

"However, this is the first study to show that melatonin and bright light can both help to advance the circadian clock, and the combination of bright light and melatonin produces a larger phase advance than bright light alone," said Senior Author Charmane Eastman, Ph.D., Director of the Biological Rhythms Research Lab and Professor of the Behavioral Sciences Department at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Phase advance is the resetting of the circadian clock earlier in time so that all the circadian rhythms of the body occur earlier.

Dr. Eastman and colleagues at Rush's Biological Rhythms Research Lab studied 44 healthy adults -- 24 men and 19 women -- between the ages of 19 and 45 years old. The participants were randomly divided into three groups and assigned one of three treatments -- placebo, 0.5 mg melatonin, or 3.0 mg melatonin.

Each participant was assigned a strict eight hour sleep schedule that was similar to their typical sleep schedule. In addition, they h
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Contact: Tadu Yimam
tyimam@endo-society.org
301-941-0251
The Endocrine Society & The Hormone Foundation
1-Nov-2005


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