Jet Lag App and Pill

jet lag

Frequent fliers and travelers unite. Researchers from two different universities are working on solutions for jet lag: one is a smartphone app and the other is a pill.

Desynchrosis or jet lag, as it is commonly called, is an illness that causes the sufferer to have a wide range of symptoms varying from fatigue, nausea, coordination problems, dizziness and insomnia. It is temporary and considered a

circadian rhythm sleep disorder, which occurs when a traveler is unable to immediately adjust to the time in a different zone. The length of jet lag depends on how many time zones the sufferer crossed while traveling and until now, there have not been any pills or apps to help the traveler adjust easier.

Located at the University of Michigan, mathematicians and researchers Dr. Daniel Forger and Kirill Serkh have been analyzing and crunching mathematical equations in order to figure out the fastest and easiest method to get rid of the disorienting illness. Based on their research, they have come up with a free mobile app.

By using the app, which uses mathematical models Forger and Serkh have come up, users first enter in the amount of hours of light and the hours of dark that they are exposed to normally. Then, they would be able to enter in details including the destination of their trip and hours of sunlight and dark they usually expose themselves to. The app also asks a variety of questions, including a breakdown of the hourly levels of light the user should be trying to expose themselves to.

“You just take the day and divide it in half- one for the day, which is where you need to try to get as much bright light as possible,” Forger said. “The other is the night section, where you should get as little light as you can.”

The app includes a schedule with two different hours: one where users should seek out the brightest light they can expose themselves to, and the other where they would need to seek very little light regardless of if they were awake at the time or not. Users would also be able to use the app to record their actual light exposure and sleep times, which affects the model, readjusting accordingly. They would also have the option of sending the data back to the researchers in order to help with real-world testing of the app.

At Manchester University, researchers have collected results from a study involving certain mice. The rodents lacking a certain enzyme known as CK1epsilon were discovered to be able to adjust to light and dark cycles much more easily than others. Mice that did contain the enzyme were given various drugs that countered it, and were able to adjust to the cycle changes just as easily.

Researcher and leader of the study at Manchester University, David Bechtold, has stated his team’s findings in the study could potentially lead to the creation of a pill that would help ease the changes brought on by jet lag.

“Our study could very well pave the way to treatment for humans,” Bechtold said. “I believe the pill could be made available or at least a very realistic possibility within the following few years.”

Despite there being a new app and a potential future pill to help ease the trouble that comes along with jet lag, there are other ways travelers are able to cope with the disorienting sickness. Travelers crossing time zones are urged to stay in shape, avoid alcohol and caffeine, drink water and wear comfortable clothes and shoes. The app for jet lag, called Entrain, is available at and the study that could lead to a future pill can be seen in the March 20 issue of Current Biology journal.

By Jessica Cooley

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