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Symptoms of chronic jet lag affect more than frequent flyers

 

Narrator:            This is Science Today. Chronic jet lag has been found to cause persistent changes in the part of the brain involved in memory processing. Lance Kriegsfeld, an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who led this study, says it's not just people who fly frequently across time zones who are affected.

Kriegsfeld:            What this really extends to is about 20 million shift workers that we have in this country. So, there's numerous businesses that have to operate on a 24-hour schedules. These are hospitals, long-distance truckers, you have factories that are running on 24-hour schedules essentially being chronically jetlagged in the sense that their Circadian system is not synchronized with their current time zone.

Narrator:            Kriegsfeld plans to look into what actually causes these changes in the brain, but until then he suggests night shift workers take some simple steps when they leave the workplace.

Kriegsfeld:            Make sure you're sleeping in a light-tight room or wear a sleep mask because you are trying to trick your clock into thinking you're working during the daytime.

Narrator:            For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.