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Flashes of light may stop jet lag

Exposure to short flashes of light at night could help sleeping travellers adjust to new time zones and avoid jet lag, according to US scientists.

The light beams travel through the eyelids and this tells the brain to re-set the body's inner biological clock, the Stanford researchers believe, BBC according.

They tested the method in 39 volunteers and found it shifted a person's body clock by about two hours.

An hour of the flashlight therapy was enough to achieve this effect.

Body clock

People's bodies synchronise to the 24-hour pattern of daytime and night they are used to. And when they travel across time zones to a new light-dark schedule, they need to realign.

While most people can easily manage a long-haul flight across one or two time zones, crossing several time zones messes with the body clock.

Jet lag can leave travellers tired, irritable and disorientated for days.

As a remedy, some people take melatonin tablets, which mimic a hormone released in the evening.

Some try phototherapy - light boxes that simulate daylight.

The drugs can be used to shift the clock, light is readily available and is what our bodies have evolved to respond to.

"You would normally have to sit in front of a light box for several hours to get an effect.

"The idea underlying this is certainly based on solid biology."