A new drug promises to put an end to jet lag and enable better sleep for travelers, swing-shift crews, and insomniacs, the Economist reports. Tasimelteon works a lot like today's popular but unregulated melatonin supplements, bonding with brain receptors to stimulate melatonin production and REM sleep. The distinction is significant because the drug is not acting as a mere sedative.
“We want to treat the underlying cause of jet lag or shift-work disorder: the misalignment of the inner circadian clock with the external environmental time,” says the drug’s lead researcher. More than 400 people successfully shifted their sleep patterns by 5 hours in two clinical trials. If further tests prove effective, an even simpler remedy for sleeplessness—such as wearing orange-tinted sunglasses at night—may be forthcoming.