Jetlag is caused by a disruption in the circadian cycle which in turn has to do something with Oxygen concentration. These latest findings by a group of scientists from Israel open new door to fix the jetlag problem, presumably.
A sleepless journey
Jet lag is quite common among people who travel between multiple time zones. It is basically a disruption in the Circadian sleep cycle, which is a clock built within a human. When body experience new time zone, there is a change in temperature, light, time, environment etc. These changed time cycle would be difficult for them to adopt in the first few days, but later gets used to it. Disrupted sleep cycles are one notable symptom of circadian dysrhythmia. Most of the factors were understood long before itself, but a recent study point to the fact that changed time zone would influence the oxygen absorption, which indeed affects the circadian clock. Though the study was conducted in mice, the results vouch for similar activity in humans too. The researchers altered the time frame of mice and tested various factors influencing the circadian cycle.
In-depth regarding Oxygen.
“It was so exciting to see that small changes in oxygen concentration was able to synchronize the circadian clock.” – says the lead author Yaarit Adamovich. According to their study, even a small change of 3% in oxygen concentration twice a day would enough to fix this body clock mis-synchronization. H1F1α is a subunit of the protein encoded by H1F1α gene which is a key player in the oxygen absorption process. This molecule is the link between oxygen absorption and the circadian clock, as they play a vital role in the homeostasis of oxygen in cells. When H1F1α is very low, it sends a wave of non-synchronous activities in our body, of which oxygen absorption is the main factor. Though scientists couldn’t fully unlock the working of H1F1α, they believe that this molecule can be altered artificially in order to solve the jet lag issue.
In the light of study
Usually, airlines use a pressurized cabin matching an air density similar to that of ground, even at 8000 feet above the surface. It is low-pressure inside the passenger space, which helps the plane from possible wear and tear. Moreover, the fact is that there is comparably low oxygen concentration in the cabin that contributes to jet lag and which possibly takes quite a few days to get fixed. Now with this study, the researchers are planning to test the contrary scenario of a high-pressure cabin that is rich in oxygen, which would assuage the jetlag and makes it easy for recovery. The Oxygen-circadian relation not only helps in jet lag issue, but also contributes other information about its effects on heart diseases, shift work syndrome, tissue damages, and other problems that happen due to low oxygen concentration.
Yaarit Adamovich, Benjamin Ladeuix, Marina Golik, Maarten P. Koeners, Gad Asher. Rhythmic Oxygen Levels Reset Circadian Clocks through HIF1α. Cell Metabolism, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.09.014