Bloodshot eyes, waking up at 3 a.m. and a disrupted eating schedule -- jet lag is never fun.
But now, researchers from the University of Michigan and Yale University have launched a new app that they claim reduces the amount of time your body takes to adjust to a new time zone.
Since light is the single most important factor in overcoming jet lag and regulating your internal body clock (a.k.a. circadian rhythms), the Entrain app makes recommendations for how much light you should be exposed to and at what times of the day by sending you custom alerts.
Essentially, it takes the guessing game out of figuring out when to wake up and when to go sleep.
"Overcoming jet lag is fundamentally a math problem and we've calculated the optimal way of doing it," says study author and mathematics professor Danny Forger. "We're certainly not the first people to offer advice about this, but our predictions show the mathematically best and quickest ways to adjust across time zones."
The free app, which is currently only available for iPhones, accounts for the type of light you're likely to encounter, indoor or outdoor, and adjusts its recommendations accordingly.
Forger arrived at his results by spending 10 years studying data of more than 1,000 participants in previous sleep studies. He has published his results in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, which details his methodology and mathematical models for optimal light exposure.
"A lot of people think it's harder to travel east than west, but according to our schedules it's actually easier. It's just that when people travel east, they do the wrong things at the wrong time," Forger tells Bloomberg.
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He says that Entrain can cut the number of days a person suffers from jet lag by 50 per cent or more.
"We're trying to move the science beyond your grandmother's advice of 'wake up late' or 'avoid carbohydrates' to something that can be rigorously tested," he tells the Los Angeles Times. "All I know is these schedules are optimal according to the mathematics."
Looking for other tips on how to beat jet lag? Try avoiding alcohol and practicing meditation.
For expert tips on how to get more sleep, check out the video below.