University of Notre Dame researchers, as part of a collaborative effort, have identified a protein that potentially could be a target for drugs that that would help people recover faster from jet lag and better adjust their circadian rhythms during rotational shift work. The study appears in the Aug. 29 issue of the journal Cell.
An internal circadian body clock helps virtually all creatures synchronize their bodily functions to the 24-hour cycle of light and dark in a day. However, travel to a different time zone, or shift work, disrupts the body’s clock. Furthermore, it can take up to a day for the body to adjust to each hour that the clock is shifted, resulting in several days of fatigue, indigestion, poorer cognitive performance and sleep disturbance.