Whether you’re going on a family vacation, weekend getaway, or business trip, traveling is a great way to shake up your routine and get you out of a winter-induced funk. Unfortunately, not all travel shake-ups are enjoyable, especially the dreaded jet lag.
Anyone who’s traveled across time zones has experienced this phenomenon, no matter if you’re off by a just couple of hours or half a day. Jet lag can leave you feeling groggy, disoriented, and unable to sleep at “normal” times; and that’s just in the short term. In the long term, jet lag can cause serious health problems like depression and disrupted metabolism. Disrupted sleep can also cause problems with memory, focus, and potentially lead to weight gain.
To avoid these effects, researchers and mathematicians at the University of Michigan have created an app, Entrain, designed to help reset the circadian rhythms of frequent travelers, night-shift workers, and anyone else with a changing sleep schedule.
The app uses equations developed by two math professors from at the University of Michigan to help people get back on track with their circadian clock. The circadian clock is what regulates biological functions like sleep and body temperature. Jet lag is a disruption of this internal clock, causing the familiar off-kilter feeling.
Exposure to light at the right times can help keep your internal clock on a regular schedule, and Entrain helps users determine when and how long they should be exposed to light.
By entering the length of trip, destination, and the brightest type of light available during the trip into Entrain, travelers will be shown recommendations for optimal light exposure. Following the recommendations should speed up the adjustment to a new time zone, allowing for more pleasant travel and a regular sleep schedule.