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Jet Lag

May 5, 2009

Two areas of the brain go out of synch during jet lag.


Is jet lag all in your head?…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A new study in the journal Current Biology shows why jet lag leaves you feeling tired and out of whack. Horacio de la Iglesia is a biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. He and his colleagues found that in rats, two particular groups of neurons in the brain get out of synch with each other during a time shift. These brain regions each control a different stage of sleep.

HORACIO DE LA IGLESIA (University of Washington):
One aspect of sleep, which is the non-REM sleep, phase shifts very quickly, whereas the other part of sleep, which is the REM sleep, or R-E-M sleep, processes several days to catch up with that new clock time.

De la Iglesia says it takes about a week for these neurons to synch up again. In the meantime, sleep cycles are disrupted, leading to that foggy feeling. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.