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  • As a travel columnist, I am well-aware of what jet lag feels like, but what about what's happening in my head?

  • This is Daniela: She's the expert, let's ask her.

  • Jet lag is a chronobiological problem which is just a fancy way of saying your body's connection to the time of day.

  • When we travel long distances, our circadian rhythm gets thrown out of whack, making it hard for your body to know when you should sleep and when you shouldn't.

  • That's because our internal clock is suddenly different than our external clock.

  • The shock doesn't just affect sleep.

  • It also has an effect on your body temperature, blood pressure, plus when you get hungry and how hungry you are.

  • Directly behind your eyes, there's a group of 20,000 nerve cells called the supra-chiasmatic nucleus, or the SCN, a.k.a. your body's master clock.

  • It controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps make you sleepy.

  • That's what's in the pills you see at any local pharmacy.

  • When you move across time zones, your body's clock is still operating based on where you were, not where you are.

  • According to research, the body's internal clock adapts slowly to abrupt changes.

  • On average, it shifts approximately an hour or so per day for each hour of time zone change.

  • That means, if I flew across three time zones from L.A. to New York, it might take about three days before I'm on New York time.

  • Prolonged changes to your internal clock, like something you would see in shift workers, can cause some serious health problems.

  • See these charts?

  • Researchers are looking at how peoples' bodies react when they don't sleep during normal hours.

  • Their blood pressure goes up, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

  • It can also make the body more resistant to insulin, which increases the risk for diabetes.

  • For many seasoned travelers, jet lag is frustrating, and it can contribute to serious health concerns.

  • Many people just wanna take off and go, but it's important to have a strategy to improve your travels and your health.

As a travel columnist, I am well-aware of what jet lag feels like, but what about what's happening in my head?

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What Happens to Your Brain on Jet Lag | WSJ

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    Mackenzie posted on 2019/12/19
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