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Want To Avoid Jet Lag? Surprise, There’s A Mathematician-Designed App For That

East-coasters going to SDCC this summer, we've got your back.


One day, when I have a bunch of dollars and tons of free time, I’m going to jet around the world to all the different comic conventions that I always admire from afar. But since I’m going to be traveling so many places, I’ll probably be dealing with some crazy jet lag. Luckily, the guys who made the Entrain app have my (metaphorical future) back.

Mathematicians at the University of Michigan have developed this free app using calculations to determine when you should sleep and when you should get outside in order to best avoid getting jet lagged. When your circadian rhythms are off-balance (you know, the thing that tells your body when to sleep, wake up, eat, and so forth) you can start to feel pretty wonky – and science is pretty sure that these rhythms are, to a large extent, controlled by the location of the sun in relation to your body. Knowing when to huddle in the darkness and step out into the light in your new time zone is key to resetting your circadian clock.

The folks behind Entrain took two models of how light effects your circadian system, and then applied a math model called the “optimal control theory” in order to determine ideal darkness and light times for any trip you might be taking. With Entrain, all you need to do is set your sleep time to what it recommends, and get in bright light or darkness when it tells you, and it can take your jet lag down to just four days after a full, twelve-hour time shift.

You can also submit your data from Entrain directly to the University of Michigan, helping them with basically the largest sleep study of all time. Right now, they’re testing the links between sleep deprivation and bipolar disorder. So get Entrain, stop jet lag, and help science. Best app day ever.

(via Scientific American, image via Entrain)

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