How your body tells time by color

How your body tells time by color

People who have crossed over more than a couple time zones while traveling know how brutal jet lag can be.

A new study from The University of Manchester may have found a new approach for treating travel woes. Researchers looked at the change in light around dawn and dusk to analyze whether color could be used to determine time of day.

Using mice as test subjects, the researchers recorded electrical activity present with different visual stimuli. Many of the cells were more sensitive to changes in color between blue and yellow than to changes in brightness. Besides just the change in light intensity, they found the light is much bluer at twilight than during the day.

“This is the first time that we’ve been able to test the theory that color affects the body clock in mammals,” Dr. Timothy Brown, lead researcher, said in a news release. “What’s exciting about our research is that the same findings can be applied to humans. So in theory, color could be used to manipulate our clock, which could be useful for shift workers or travelers wanting to minimize jet lag.”

Keeping your internal clock on track is important for staying healthy.

“Most of our body hormones work in a circadian rhythm,” says Dr. David Koh, pulmonologist and sleep medicine expert with Advocate Medical Group in Normal, Ill. “Certain hormones, body temperature, and the ability to stay asleep or awake work on a 24-hour clock. The more you mess with the circadian rhythm, the less efficiently the body works.”

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About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.