The Key to Beating Jet Lag Lies in your Genes
Genes linked to keeping the circadian clock in sync could help with those suffering from jet lag and other sleep-related conditions, new research suggests.
Two genes, called Period and Cryptochrome, can help to restart the circadian clock rhythm, according to researchers at the UNC School of Medicine in study published in the journal Genes and Development.
The circadian clock works in rhythm with the 24-hour day as well as the seasons and involves four genes, Cryptochrome, Period as well as CLOCK and BMAL1. The genes work in unison to control the cyclical changes that occur in the human body such as blood pressure, body temperature and sleep cycles.
When the body undergoes a fast-forward or rewind against the natural 24-hour day, the genes and proteins need to adjust, the study suggests. Jet lag is the result of such an adjustments, with cells attempting to realign and start a new solar day.
Researchers found that the genes CLOCK and BMAL1 bind to the genes Period and Cryptochrome and turn them to express proteins, suppressing CLOCK and BMAL1 activity. Following this, the Period and Cryptochrome proteins are degraded which allows the circadian clock to begin again.
The research and knowledge of how the circadian clock works could be useful in the treatment of a variety of diseases including cancer, diabetes, insomnia and seasonal affective disorder (SAD.)