As much as we enjoy travelling, we could really do without the sleepless nights that always inevitably follow a long haul flight.
Mike Ludwig, Professor of Neurophysiology, and lead investigator of the study, said: “Our exciting results show a potentially new pharmalogical route to manipulate our internal biological clocks.”
The link between our eyes and our biological body clock has been long established, as the human retina sends signals about light changes to our brain.
This data from our eyes then helps our brain to make decisions about physiological activities and daily circadian rhythms such as temperature and hormone production.
Although this connection had long been observed, until now, scientists hadn’t quite pinned down the exact details about how this relationship worked.
But the new study has found that a group of ‘vasopressin-expressing’ cells are responsible for the transmission of information.
Knowing this, researchers believe they would be able to use liquid eye drops to manipulate the messages being sent by these cells to the brain and help alleviate symptoms experienced by those with flight-induced jet lag or those working night shifts.
Ludwig said: “Studies in the future which alter vasopressin signalling through the eye could lead to developing eye drops to get rid of jet lag, but we are still a long way off from this.”
Long-term sleep disruption is well documented as a cause of health problems, including gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases, depression and increased risk of cancer.