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Sunday, April 13, 2014

This Jet Lag App Does The Math So You'll Feel Better Faster

Linda Poon reports, "Jet lag is nobody's idea of fun. A bunch of mathematicians say they can make the adjustment less painful with a smartphone app that calculates the swiftest way to adjust."

You've been there, and you know it doesn't feel good.
But an app based on the science of circadian rhythms could help reduce the suffering of jet lag.
Photo: NPR

Users plug in the time zone they're traveling to, and the app will do the calculations before spitting out a schedule specifying when the user should stay in bright light, low light or be in the dark, says , a graduate student at the University of Michigan who designed the app.

"In your brain you have a central circadian clock ... [that] sends signals all throughout the body," says , a professor of mathematics and computational medicine at Michigan and the mastermind behind the app. And that central clock controls all of the body's biological functions.

Unlike with many of the apps out there, Forger and his colleagues have more than 80 pages of complex science and calculus in a study, published Thursday in PLoS Computational Biology, to support their product.

Using two mathematical equations that predict how light affects the human circadian clock, Forger and his colleagues simulated the optimal schedules for more than 1,000 possible trips. They then applied two basic principles. One is to be exposed to one big block of light and one big block of dark in your day, Walch says. Another is to be exposed to the brightest possible light.
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Source: NPR (blog)