Breathing Less Oxygen Helps In Beating Jet Lag

Posted: Oct 21 2016, 10:48am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

Breathing Less Oxygen Helps in Beating Jet Lag
This is an abstract visualization of how variations in oxygen levels can change circadian rhythms through the protein HIF1?. Credit: Asher et al./Cell Metabolism 2016
  • Less Oxygenated Air can Alleviate Symptoms of Jet Lag
 

Apparently less oxygenated air can help alleviate the adverse symptoms of jet lag in travelers and tourists.

The circadian rhythms do not come into question so long as we remain bound by night and day cycles. Yet the moment we step on a jet airliner and experience the nasty symptoms of jet lag, we feel that our internal clock has a lot of wisdom behind it.

Nature, as they say, is never wrong. It is man, in his limitless progressive nature, who tends to forget that by violating natural laws that are inflexible, he will only harm himself on every level. 

Scientists found that resetting the circadian clocks of rodents in the lab, via thin air that contained a lesser amount of oxygen, led to an allaying of the symptoms of jet lag.

This could help in the field of avionics by an adjustment of cabin pressure so as to alleviate jet lag. Until now, food, light and temperature were the only factors that were held to be responsible for allaying jet lag.

Then a scientist reported that his experiments with oxygen showed that lessening it in the air supply led to a palliative effect on jet lag. 

Change in oxygen levels by a mere 3%, two times a day, led to a filing of cells in synch with the circadian rhythms. Scientists suspected that ‘HIF 1 a” was the mysterious link between oxygen and the circadian clock.

They discovered that low “HIF 1 a” levels didn’t tally with oxygen variation. This was an exhilarating discovery. For one thing, it pointed towards the solid fact that even small changes in oxygen in the air supply led to a cure of sorts for jet lag. A great many questions were raised by the study.   

In the experiment, mice were left to their own devices after being provided with eatables, sleep quarters and treadmills. They were kept in air-controlled spaces.

Oxygen levels alone were not sufficient to affect the circadian clock though. Rather once the gap between expectations and reality as regards the body clock became visible by several hours, the oxygen began to do its magic.

Drops in oxygen allowed the mice to escape the fatigue, confusion and sleepiness which are the classic symptoms of jet lag. In the future, every Boeing 747 could have its air pressure cabin designed in such a manner that the oxygen levels are constantly monitored. This will give the best results in the long run for air travelers. 

This study got published on October 20 in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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