There’s nothing like a seriously-screwed up sleep schedule to put a damper on your holiday abroad.
But new research suggests special eye-drops could provide the solution to jet lag we’ve all been waiting for.
In a study published in the Journal of Physiology on the eyes of laboratory rats (whose biology isn’t all that different from ours), researchers from the University of Edinburgh found a compound called vasopressin.
This signaling molecule is also located in the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which serves as the “control center” for the body’s biological clock. There, it gleans information from the reactions of the eyes' retinal ganglion to light levels and then signals to your brain whether you should be awake or not. This is why jet lag throws a wrench in your biological clock, as the cells are telling your brain it’s night-time when it assumes (based on your usual routine) that it’s daytime.
Based on this discovery, the scientists say they could potentially develop eye-drops to influence the molecule and therefore influence the brain’s perception of night and day. In other words, you could effectively use an eye drop to increase the decrease the amount of vasopressin being transmitted and basically trick your brain into thinking it’s night or day.
“Our exciting results show a potentially new pharmacological route to manipulate our internal biological clocks,” said Mike Ludwig, study author and professor of physiology at the University of Edinburgh.
While the scientists press that there’s still a long way to go until jet-lag canceling eye-drops actually become a thing, it’s safe to say we’ll be first in line when they do.