As it turns out the forgetfulness and concentration issues many of us increasingly encounter especially as we get older may be the result of a source much more surprising than age. And no, I am not talking about too much experimenting with illicit substances in college either. According to new research by psychologists at the University of Berkeley, California, the root of your dilemma may be a consequence of too much air travel.
“Chronic jet lag alters the brain in ways that cause memory and learning problems long after one’s return to a regular 24-hour schedule,” says research news Web site ScienceDaily about the UC Berkeley findings. The report indicates jet lag, the malaise that occurs from crossing different time zones, interrupts the body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm. The most severe cases have been cited in flight attendants, who “have been found to have learning and memory problems, decreased reaction times, higher incidences of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancer, and reduced fertility.”
According to the research, traveling west to east is the most difficult for domestic travelers. Although this particular study focused on these effects on hamsters, it appears all of us who must travel on a regular basis for business may be the guinea pigs. Seems there’s always something new to worry about for modern-day businesspeople, whether it’s brain tumors from cell phones, the new full-body security check scans and now jet lag-induced memory loss.
At least now next time you show up for that meeting across the country and are not at your sharpest (or perhaps even nod off) you have this material to offer as respite. You can read the entire report here.