Published on February 29th, 2016 | by James Shackell
Science has come up with the cure for jet lag
Read time: a bit over 2 minute
First it was seedless watermelons. Then it was a bunch of scientists who proved Coke makes an effective spermicide (can’t wait to see that ad campaign…) Now, glory be, science has saved the day again by finding a cure for jet lag.
Until now the best cure we had was either this handy app (which was developed by mathematicians, so you know it’s good). But now, researchers at Stanford University have found that brief flashes of a certain type of light while sleeping will prep your body’s natural circadian rhythms before your plane even leaves the tarmac. For those without a medical degree, your circadian system is the one that control sleep timing, hormones and moods. It’s why your brain is programmed to wake up when it sees the blue light of dawn (and why you have so much trouble getting to sleep after you’ve flooded your pre-bedtime eyes with two hours of Netflix).
Jet lag is what happens when your sleep patterns aren’t synched up with your circadian ones. Scientists reckon you actually adjust to a new time zone at a rate of one hour per day – so it would usually take FIVE DAYS to adjust for a measly five hour time difference. Making you feel like this:
But not any more…
The Stanford scientists found that all you have to do is subject your sleeping eyes to these intermittent flashes (about the speed of a camera flash) for certain periods of time pre-trip, based on how big a lag you’re facing. Dr. Jaime Zeitzer the study’s senior author, gave an example of flying across America: “If you are flying to New York [from California] tomorrow, tonight you use the light therapy. If you normally wake up at 8 a.m., you set the flashing light to go off at 5 a.m. When you get to New York, your biological system is already in the process of shifting to East Coast time.”
And while strapping yourself into bed and then subjecting yourself to flashes of light for hours at a time sounds a little Clockwork Orange, the results speak for themselves. This stuff is real. The technology will be released to the public soon. Until then, hire a good-natured friend to take flash photos of you every 10 seconds while you sleep. Jet lag won’t stand a chance.