Jet Lag and Light

Anyone who has suffered from trying to drag themselves through a normal workday after a long international trip, knows the discomfort caused by crossing time-zones. And yet it appears there is a simple remedy available.


Jet lag is caused when our body’s internal clock becomes out of sync with the time of our destination. This internal clock is set by the dark and light rhythms of our place of origin. And it is these light and dark patterns that trigger our melatonin production. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in darkness; secretion stops when there is light to the eyes.


It is melatonin that plays such a key role in the circadian rhythms which regulate various significant body functions – such as sleep, hunger, hormone regulation and body temperature. All the ways in which jet lag affects us – unable to sleep at night, tired during the day, and not being hungry at meal times.


Given that it is light that sets the pace for melatonin production, we can ease the effects of jet-lag by accentuating the rhythm of our destination. This can be done by getting access to bright light in the morning – preferably sunlight (or full-spectrum if that is unavailable) and dim light in the evenings. This use of light can bring our bodies into sync with our locations faster than just waiting for our bodies to catch-up.


Link to research.


British Airways has an online calculator to help you time your exposure to light and dark.



Related posts:

  1. Circadian rhythms and how to check yours
  2. 5 Tips to Get Your Body Rhythm Back
  3. Why is Melatonin so important?
  4. How Light Affects the Brain
  5. Why is circadian disruption relevant?

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