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Light Flashes During Sleep Can Combat Jet Lag: Stanford Study

Update Date: Feb 09, 2016 11:43 AM EST

Air-dashers take heart. Combating jet lag is now possible without losing sleep, courtesy new research from Stanford.

According to Reuters, the technique alters the body's biological clock by exposing it to a series of light flashes during sleep. Trials have shown this technique is more effective than the tiring practice of being exposed to bright lights when awake. However, the method and the equipment to get it right are for now only in the hands of researchers.

The biological clock, controlled by the body's circadian system, is set by exposure to light. Jet lag defined by inability to temporarily adjust to a new time zone and characterized by lack of sleep despite weariness. It can take days to resolve. Though not a serious condition, it can be frustrating for frequent flyers on cramped work schedules.

CNN reports that Stanford researchers attributed light therapy's effectiveness to increased sensitivity of eyes and brain to light in the night. A sleeping person exposed to two-millisecond flash every 10 seconds could put sleep off by two hours. Exposure to continuous bright light could only change the biological clock by 36 minutes, the researchers found.

The technique's timing can thus help travelers delay or hasten their body's clocks depending on the direction of travel.

Researchers are also hopeful that their technique can help others combating sleep problems. Before it can be recommended, more testing is warranted, they said.

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