What Happens to Your Brain on Jet Lag | WSJ


– As a travel columnist, I am well-aware of what jet lag feels like, but what about what’s
happening in my head? This is Daniela, she’s
the expert, let’s ask her. – Jet lag is a chronobiological problem which is just a fancy way of saying your body’s connection to the time of day. When we travel long distances, our circadian rhythm
gets thrown out of whack, making it hard for your body to know when you should
sleep and when you shouldn’t. That’s because our internal
clock is suddenly different than our external clock. The shock doesn’t just affect sleep . It also has an effect on
your body temperature, blood pressure, plus when you get hungry and how hungry you are. Directly behind your eyes, there’s a group of 20,000 nerve cells called the supra-chiasmatic
nucleus, or the SCN, a.k.a. your body’s master clock. It controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps make you sleepy. That’s what in the pills you
see at any local pharmacy. When you move across time zones, your body’s clock is still operating based on where you
were, not where you are. According to research,
the body’s internal clock adapts slowly to abrupt changes. On average, it shifts
approximately an hour or so per day for each hour of time zone change. That means if I flew
across three time zones from L.A. to New York, it
might take about three days before I’m on New York time. Prolonged changes to your internal clock, like something you would
see in shift workers, can cause some serious health problems. See these charts? Researchers are looking at
how people’s bodies react when they don’t sleep during normal hours. Their blood pressure goes up, which is a risk factor for heart disease. It can also make the body
more resistant to insulin, which increases the risk for diabetes. – For many seasoned travelers,
jet lag is frustrating, and it can contribute to
serious health concerns. Many people just wanna take off and go, but it’s important to have a strategy to improve your travels and your health. (dramatic orchestral accent)

16 thoughts on “What Happens to Your Brain on Jet Lag | WSJ

  1. is it because humans weren't made to fly that is why there is jet lag problem? can the solution be found in migrating birds?

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