A cure for jet lag could be on the cards after a breakthrough in scientific research in Spain.
A study conducted at the University of Barcelona has revealed a new function of the "feel good" brain chemical dopamine in the control of sleep regulation.
When this chemical becomes active, it signals the body to wake up by turning down levels of the sleep hormone melatonin, the researchers found.
Studying how dopamine receptors work in more depth will give them a better understanding of jet lag and the possibility of controlling it to prevent travellers suffering.
"The discovery of this new function of dopamine could be extremely useful when designing new treatments to help mitigate circadian rhythm disturbances, such as those related to jet lag, those found among people who work at night, and in cases of sleep disorders in general which, according to the World Health Organisation, affect 40 per cent of the world's population," said researcher Dr McCormick in a release announcing the research."
A number of so called "cures" for jet lag have been brandished recently by airlines, in a bid to help passengers beat their body clocks.
The Valkee, an ipod-like headset which emits light signals to the brain via the ear canal, is currently being tested on passengers travelling with Scandinavian airline Finnair. If the trial proves successful, the device may be made widely available by international airlines.
Boeing's brand new luxurious Dreamliner aircraft is designed to give passengers more oxygen and humidity, and is equipped with a lighting system which helps with the switch to local time by simulating the light and colours of sunrise and sunset.
BA.com even has a jet lag calculator which tells you the hours to seek or avoid light before you go.
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