Brain chemical may help treat jet lag
Researchers have found that a chemical in the brain, called VIP, may serve as a way to reset biological clock cells.
This research is the first of its kind to show that a naturally-occurring chemical in the brain can improve the function of the sleep cycle, which may have implications for people who suffer from sleep problems caused by jet lag or erratic schedules.
In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers hypothetically ‘flew mice to a new time zone’ by shifting their light schedules, in order to induce real-life feelings of jet lag. When the mice were given a shot of VIP the day before the “flight,” they were able to cut the ‘jet lag’ in half.
Results showed that, while VIP normally helps synchronize biological clock cells, high doses of VIP essentially knocked the cells out of sync and allowed the mice to quickly reset their sleep cycle.
Researchers said they hope that these findings will lead to the development of new sleep treatments involving VIP or ones that mimic the effects of VIP.