Bees and bright lights could help post-op jetlag: Auckland professor

Research into the way bees dance could be helpful for treating jetlag in post-op patients, according to new research.
MIKE SCOTT/FAIRFAX NZ

Research into the way bees dance could be helpful for treating jetlag in post-op patients, according to new research.

Medical researchers say humans can learn from bees in recovering from post-operative jetlag.

Auckland University professor Guy Warman has studied anaesthetised bees and recorded the way they dance after waking up to investigate why people's sleep was disturbed after surgery.

He said it was important to understand why many people suffered a form of jetlag after having a general anaesthetic, waking up after surgery with no sense that time had passed and suffering from disturbed sleep for days afterwards.

The jetlag could be a potentially serious issue as it could affect moods, suppress the patient's immune system and slow down wound healing.

Warman said bees had an inbuilt "sun compass" and performed a "waggle dance" in the hive that helped them figure out what the time was.

In the study, bees were anaesthetised for six hours.

They were woken at 3pm but still thought it was 9am, based on observations of the way they were flying with respect to the sun.

However when a bright light was shone on the bees they apparently had reduced chemically induced jetlag.

Warman said the research was looking at whether shining a light on human patients was a possible treatment.

​As well as bees Warman's team plans to work on studies with mice, fruit flies and kidney donor patients.

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Warman was to present his findings on Tuesday at the annual scientific meeting of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists in Auckland.

 - Stuff

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