HSW 94 – Project Sunrise and Jet Lag with Dr Sun Bin.

Today we’re talking all things jet-lag with Dr Sun Bin from the University of Sydney who is an epidemiologist and public health researcher, who has a particular interest in sleep and circadian rhythms.

Dr Sun Bin and her team are currently working on a research project with Australia’s largest airline, Qantas, called “Project Sunrise” to ascertain the feasibility of running non-stop 19-20 hour commercial flights from the east coast of Australia, to London and New York, with a special focus around passenger and crew well-being.

What you’re going to learn:

– What is Project Sunrise, and some of the aims of the research?
– What scientists are specifically monitoring throughout the flights, as part of the research.
– Why passengers are being encouraged not to eat during the biological night, to help reduce digestive discomfort.
– Some of the results and findings so far, along with future research plans.

Links mentioned on the podcast:

Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness

Stair walking is more energizing than low dose caffeine in sleep-deprived young women.

Dr Bin’s work and research

Jet Lag, Shift Work and Your Gut :

The Reason For Your Immune System Downfall!

Guts - Female Organs - Human Anatomy

As a shift worker, have you ever wondered why you’re constantly getting sick?  Perhaps you are so used to feeling under the weather all of the time, that it’s become the new “normal” for you.

Well that’s because your body is functioning at a reduced capacity due to a lack of restorative sleep, similar to that feeling of being jet lagged after a nice vacation away, except that you haven’t flown anywhere!

Every day we push our bodies to work against our body’s natural sleep cycle, which is  regulated by two body systems:

  1. Sleep/wake homeostasis and
  2. The circadian biological clock

Working at erratic hours means our sleep is constantly thrown out of sync.

So how does this affect our immune system?

This constant disruption to our sleep-wake cycles actually weakens the lining of our gut, making us prone to gastrointestinal complaints.  An all too familiar experience for any one who has ever worked 24/7.

As the integrity of our gut is compromised, this has a flow on effect on our immune system because 80% of our immunity is found in the gut, thereby impairing our ability to fight off infections.

The gut itself is made up of gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) which helps to defend our body against harmful pathogens.  This helps to explain why supporting the gut is KEY to maintaining a more robust immune system – particularly for anyone working 24/7.