Breakthrough in jetlag cure revealed

Adjust your sleeping patterns prior to travelling; adjust your sleeping patterns during travel; get drunk; avoid alcohol; drink plenty of water; supercharge your diet with extra protein. When it comes to cures for jetlag, there are plenty of theories flying about.

But now, scientists in the US claim they’re a step closer to actually finding one – or at least in ‘travelling’ test mice – and it doesn’t involve taking Melatonin tablets, ingesting Valerian (not Valium), or avoiding airline food (though you may want to do that sometimes anyway).

The key, researchers say, lies in the brain chemical vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, or VIP.

The VIP chemical normally synchronises the thousands of brain cells that make up the body’s master clock, a group of cells that regulate sleep based on light.

But when released in high amounts, scientists believe VIP will actually cause the body clock’s rhythm to break down, thus making it more adaptable to massive changes in time zones – and less susceptible to jetlag.

According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, researchers found that when given a booster shot of the compound, mice adjusted to a big time-shift twice as quickly as usual.

“We found that in mice we could cut ‘jet lag’ in half by giving them a shot of VIP the day before we ‘flew them into a new time zone’ by shifting their light schedule,” the University of Washington (St Louis) Professor Erik Herzog said.

However, thanks to concerns over potential side effects, it is unlikely travellers will simply be given an injection of the chemical, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.

Instead, Professor Herzog wants to find a way of coaxing the brain to release more of its own stores of the compound.

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