Jet Lag Cure Based on Mathematical Model

jet lag

A jet lag cure is based on a new mathematical model. This condition affects everyone who travels on a plane for a very long distance. Jet lag happens because a person’s body gets used to a certain time zone. When a person travels from Las Vegas to Bangkok, for example, they will often get jet lag. There is a fourteen-hour difference between Las Vegas and Bangkok. When a person wants to sleep in Bangkok, a Las Vegas person is just waking up. When a person in Las Vegas is going to sleep, a person in Bangkok wants to wake up. When a Las Vegans person travels to Bangkok, he or she will have to get used to the new time zone. Getting use to the new time zone is jet lag. A person feels very ill and disoriented when they have jet lag.

People have tried numerous ways to prevent or cure jet lag. They drink plenty of coffee. They take pills. They change their diet. If a person is taking a flight from Las Vegas to Bangkok, he or she would stay up all night to have their bodies orient themselves to the new time zone. People would love just one cure for jet lag.

A research team, made up of scientists from University of Michigan and Yale University, has come up with a new mathematical model that could possibly do away with the ill effects of jet lag. This research has turned their new mathematical model into an iPhone application called Entrain. After a person tells the app their present location, their future destination and the type of light that a person has access to, the app will give a person a schedule of light exposure that fits the time zone that a person is going to. If a person follows the schedule given by this application, they should not feel jet lag as their body is already used to the new time zone.

This is an example of a possible schedule from this application. The schedule says to get light from about 7:40 am to 9 pm  On the second day of the schedule,  a person get up at 6:20 am and switch the lights off at 7:40 pm.  On the third of the schedule, a person should wake up before sunrise and find a light source to be under until  7:20 pm. This schedule should prepare a person’s body for the new time zone.

Another way to adjust to a new time zone is to wear glasses that are pink-tinted.  These kind of glasses block the light that determines a person’s biological clock.

One of the University of Michigan scientists says that the Entrain app has fast and slow schedules, depending on how fast or slow a person wants to orient themselves to a different time zone. He says that the app’s name comes from entrainment, the scientific term for training a body to a changed environment or time zone.

The new mathematical model that could cure jet lag is built on the work of Daniel Forger, a mathematician/biologist. Forger has been studying the biological clocks of people for about 20 years. Last Thursday, the article about his recent mathematical model was printed in the scientific journal called PLOS Computational Biology. The free Entrain application happened to be released the same day.

Forger confesses that some people may think his model is absurd because it may seem counter-intuitive to those people. To him, being intuitive is not the point. He wants advice like “avoid carbohydrates” to be scientifically proven. He does consider the app’s schedules are optional, based on the mathematics.The probable cure for jet lag was based on ten years of sleep studies that were done at Harvard and the University of Michigan. Forger had no idea what kind of schedules that the app would make based on his mathematical model.

A jet lag cure, based on a new mathematical model, has been transformed into a free app called Entrain. Entrain will train a person’s body for a different time zone.


LA Timesferent time zone.

By Tom Clark

NPR (blog)

The Australian

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