Wings Magazine

New app could help with jet lag

April 14, 2014, Ann Arbor, Mi. - Resetting one's internal clock is more complicated than simply turning back the hands. To help those struggling with jet lag, researchers have created Entrain.

April 14, 2014  By CTV News

Based on research from mathematicians at the University of Michigan,
Entrain is designed for travellers, night-shift workers and anyone else
whose circadian rhythms have been thrown out of whack. The app is
available now on iOS.


The free app, designed by Olivia Walch, is based on equations developed
by Danniel B. Forger and Kirill Serkh, both professors of mathematics
at the University of Michigan. The two mathematicians published their
findings on how math can reduce the time it takes to get over jet lag in
the April 10 issue of PLOS Computational Biology.


The principle behind Entrain is based on the circadian clock, which
regulates different biological functions including sleep and body
temperature. Jet lag is essentially a disruption of this clock,
resulting in modifications of our body temperature and sleeping and
waking cycles.


Since light is the most significant factor in establishing circadian
rhythms, the app uses complex equations to determine when and for how
long the user should be exposed to light.


Prompted by the app, the user specifies the length of the trip, the
destination city, and the brightest type of light he or she will have
access to (low office lighting, bright office lighting, low daylight,
bright daylight). Entrain then calculates the optimal light exposure
schedule for the fastest possible adjustment, as well as providing an
estimation of how long it will take to adjust.


By reducing the duration of jet lag, Entrain provides a significant
health benefit. In addition to being unpleasant, jet lag can bring about
more serious health problems such as depression or, in the long term,
disrupted metabolism.


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