DEC 23, 2015 7:32 AM PST

Blame Genetics For Your Holiday Jet Lag

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Most people probably hate holiday traveling - the crowd, the long lines, and of course, the ensuing jet lag. The scientific term for jet lag is desynchronosis, and it happens when your body's internal natural circadian clock gets out of sync with the 24 hour clock in the real world. In addition to affecting your sleep-wake cycle, jet lag can also affect your hunger habits and even your bowel habits!

In researching dementia, scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies discovered that one gene, Lhx1, is uniquely coded for light-sensing in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the brain. The SCN is the body's master clock, as it is involved in the brain's ability to sense light and thus regulate the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy.

Researchers found that mice lacking Lhx1 took less time to recover after an 8-hour shift in their day-night cycle, as compared to normal mice. The reduced "jet lag" could be due to neurons being less in sync with one another, and thus are able to adjust better to new light-dark schedules.

Watch the video to learn if there are any side effects to not having Lhx1, and what is still considered the best regulator of your circadian rhythm.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 14, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Do Organic Chemists Speak an Alien Language?
MAY 14, 2020
Do Organic Chemists Speak an Alien Language?
Have you ever read a detergent label and got confused? Or had trouble understanding a medication recall? Certain ch ...
MAY 19, 2020
Plants & Animals
Seabirds Often Deal with Thieves When Scouting for Food
MAY 19, 2020
Seabirds Often Deal with Thieves When Scouting for Food
In the bird world, parental units will often split responsibilities. One typically stays behind at the nest to protect t ...
JUN 01, 2020
Plants & Animals
Sifaka Lemurs Endure Dangerous Ventures to Find Food
JUN 01, 2020
Sifaka Lemurs Endure Dangerous Ventures to Find Food
Sifaka lemurs exist in families of such large numbers, that even an entire cluster of massive trees isn’t fruitful ...
JUN 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
NASA Picks Astrobotic to Deliver VIPER Rover to the Moon
JUN 14, 2020
NASA Picks Astrobotic to Deliver VIPER Rover to the Moon
NASA is no stranger to autonomous rovers. To date, the American space agency has sent four rovers to the Martian surface ...
JUL 13, 2020
Neuroscience
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
JUL 13, 2020
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
Researchers from the Lincoln Laboratory have found early evidence that subtle changes in peoples' voices may indicat ...
JUL 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
JUL 13, 2020
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
The moon may have hosted an ocean of magma for 200 million years according to new findings- considerably longer than pre ...
Loading Comments...