By Julia Zubiago
The development of jetlag happens when one travels to a location where the indicators of time (light, temperature, activity) differ from one’s bodily cycle. Eventually, of course, one’s body re-sets to the new environment, given enough exposure to the new time indicators. However, new research from the Weizmann Institute of Science by Gad Asher, Yaarit Adamovich and Benjamin Ladeuix has shown that oxygen levels may also cue circadian rhythms, since rate of oxygen absorption also varies with certain time indicators.
Their research showed that changing the concentration of oxygen in cells by 3% twice a day can synchronize mouse cells to a circadian rhythm. Mice were also used to conduct experiments on jetlag. In an air-controlled environment, the mice were left to eat, sleep, and run on their wheels. The alteration of oxygen levels in their environment did not change their pattern of behavior to indicate jetlag, but altering the light in the environment to mimic a 6 hour shift ahead was sufficient to induce jetlag. Variations of oxygen levels in the environments helped the mice adapt their behavior habits to a new time.
This research may have implications for design of commercial airplanes, since cabins currently are pressurized to the same air density of a city high above sea level. This drop in oxygen level often causes airsickness in patients, so some airlines are considering increasing pressure (and therefore oxygen). In light of these findings, though, such design change might lessen passengers’ ability to recover from jetlag.
Cell Press. (2016, October 20). Jet lag treatment? Blast of thin air can reset circadian clocks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161020142746.htm