New App Helps Fight Jet Lag

Hate feeling groggy after a long flight? A new application may help you overcome that nagging jet lag.

The app, which is now available for Apple’s iOS platform, is called Entrain. Developed by a team of mathematicians at the University of Michigan, the app is designed to help frequent travelers and midnight-shift workers even out their circadian rhythms — in order words, it’s designed to help people with unstable sleep schedules get some much-needed rest.

To do this, Entrain employs complex equations to determine when and for how long a person should be exposed to light — which is the major factor in determining how the circadian clock functions.

This requires a user enter the following information: length of trip, destination city (if traveling), and brightest type of light accessed (from low office lighting to bright daylight).

Using this data, Entrain calculates the optimal light exposure schedule for the user. This schedule can be started well before a trip or the beginning of a new shift, allowing users lots of time to get used to their new surroundings.

The goal is to make it easier for a person to adjust to their new schedule and eventually get some much-needed rest. Entrain can also tell users how much time will be required for a person to adjust to their new sleeping schedule.

Ideally, Entrain causes users to feel sleepy and wakeful at different times. Those behind Entrain say that, when used well in advance, the app can make the adjustment to a new sleep schedule much easier.

Health experts have long pointed to the drawbacks of jet lag. Disrupted sleep schedules can lead to depression and even metabolic problems.


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