Everyone loves a good vacation, but dealing with the jet lag that often comes with it is far less appealing. From trying to sleep in cramped quarters on flights to staying up all night in hopes of readjusting their internal clock, restless travelers have tried everything to fix their shut-eye schedules.
But, according to new research conducted by scientists from Northwestern University and the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, consuming a big breakfast after arriving at your travel destination may lessen the effects of dreaded jet lag.
Why? Well, circadian rhythm experts suggest that sticking to regular meal times after reaching a new time zone can help our bodies recalibrate their internal clocks.
The research team created a mathematical model in order to examine how our internal clocks react to aging and other disruptions, such as jet lag. This model indicated that inconsistent eating schedules, as well as participating in late-night munchie sessions, can throw off our internal clocks.
Jet lag is the phenomenon representing a disconnect between the body’s circadian rhythm and new time zones.
Scientists have previously discovered that the body contains various internal clocks, all calibrated in varying ways, and these clocks can fall out of rhythm with each other– resulting in symptoms similar to jet lag, especially as we get older.
The recent study, which was published in Chaos, shows the complicated interactions that take place between different internal clocks– which are present in almost every cell throughout the human body– using a mathematical model. While peripheral organs have clocks that are adjusted when we eat meals, the brain’s clock is impacted by sunlight.
This model enabled the team to better understand how our bodily systems could be messed up by stark changes, such as changing time zones.
They discovered that factors related to aging, including reduced light sensitivity and dulled communication between internal locks, can make the body’s internal circadian system more vulnerable to disruptions. Additionally, the body’s recovery time from these disruptions is slower.