What is jet lag?
Jet lag is an unavoidable consequence of traveling across time zones and causes poor sleep, impaired alertness and performance, as well as disrupted memory and concentration. Jet lag is caused by us shifting our sleep-wake and light-dark cycle too quickly for the body clock to keep up with. While we are naturally only used to changing by minutes a day, in response to the changes in sunrise and sunset, we can't respond to changes of an hour, two hours or many hours a day. The brain just can't keep up.
Generic advice won’t help
Generic jet lag advice is, well… generic, and generic advice won’t alleviate your jet lag and may even be counterproductive! While the causes of jet lag are well-understood, minimal useful advice reaches travelers and, unfortunately, the information they do receive is often incorrect. There are, however, a range of ways in which meaningful advice, if timed correctly, can prevent jet lag and improve sleep, alertness and performance, based on the latest scientific research. What you need is a personalized plan.
Personalized approach to shifting your biological clock
Timeshifter offers personalized advice based on your sleep pattern, circadian rhythm, flight schedule, and whether you have chosen to use melatonin or caffeine to adjust faster to the new time zone. Once a flight plan has been entered, the algorithm evaluates over 1,000 different variants of each plan and chooses the one that’s most appropriate for you, providing greater personalization and therefore improved effectiveness and compliance.
Light is the most important time cue for resetting your circadian clock. The time at which you see light determines whether your clock shifts earlier or later, and is critical to the shifting the clock. Seeing light at the wrong time can shift you in the wrong direction, however, and make your jet lag worse. Timeshifter tells you the most important times to see light, and to avoid light, so that you shift as quickly as possible.
Sleep & napping
One problem with jet lag is not being able to sleep at the right time. With Timeshifter, we plan the advice to support your preferred sleep schedule, helping you get on track as quickly as possible. Naps are an important additional tool to help maintain high levels of alertness and performance but they need to be scheduled at the right time to give you maximum recovery without affecting your scheduled night-time sleep.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and can be used to help support your new sleep timing. It can also help you stay awake at times when you should see light, to therefore help reset your clock more quickly. Caffeine use is optional but if you choose to use it, Timeshifter will let you know when and how to use caffeine most effectively. Timeshifter will also advise when not to use it to minimize any negative effects on sleep.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that tells the brain when it’s nighttime. Taking melatonin can help reset the body clock more quickly and can help you fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer as you are adjusting to your new sleep times. Melatonin use is optional but if you choose to use it, Timeshifter will tell you when to take it to maximize melatonin’s clock resetting and sleep promoting properties.
It's highly recommended, if it fits in your schedule, to start shifting your clock before you leave on your trip so that you will adapt to the new time zone more quickly. Timeshifter gives you the option to start shifting either 1 or 2 days before your flight by adjusting your sleep times and light exposure by 1 hour each day. While we recommend that you pre-adapt if you can, if you can’t do this, don’t worry — Timeshifter will optimize the advice from the day of the flight.
Advancing the science
Timeshifter is based on the most compelling scientific literature available today. Regardless, we are still pursuing advances in science and technology and clinical trials to make Timeshifter even better. Collaboration hastens discovery, and in this spirit we’re also establishing research partnerships to fulfill our mission.