Can a website help you beat jet lag?
It's 4 a.m., you're lying in bed wide awake in a strange city. Turns out that 12-hour movie marathon on your long-haul flight to Asia didn't ward off the jet lag as well as planned.
According to Jay Olson, who works in the psychology department at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University, overcoming jet lag isn't as simple as just forcing yourself to stay awake.
Instead, travelers need to figure out when to seek and avoid light based on their own trip and body clocks.
It's this science that inspired him to come up with Jet Lag Rooster, a new, free website that lets people enter their trip details and get their very own jet lag battle plan, which they can email to their smart phone to pop up with reminders during the trip.
"Years ago I flew down to Greece and spent the first week there completely jet lagged," Olson told CNN.
"I slept every afternoon and stayed awake most of the night. Jet lag had always been something that affected me quite a bit."
"During my psychology degree (studies) at Simon Fraser University, I learned that many researchers have found that light exposure at the right times can shift your body clock. This can help reduce or prevent jet lag."
Conversely, seeking light at the wrong times can make jet lag worse.
How it works
The times one should expose themselves to light vary for each person and trip so calculating them is difficult, Olson says.
"Last year, I had to fly from Vancouver to New York City and give three speeches over three days shortly after arriving," he says.
"Obviously, I did not want to be jet lagged. I came up with a simple method of finding out the times to expose myself to light. I followed these guidelines, and did not experience jet lag. More recently, I decided to make this method available to the public."
Cock a doodle doo, the Jet Lag Rooster was born.
In addition to entering travel times, users need to include the time they usually go to bed and wake up, and choose whether they want to adjust to jet lag a few days before departing, on the plane or after they arrive.
The results offer a detailed multi-day plan that highlights the best times to avoid and seek out light.
Since launching Jet Lag Rooster on January 1, Olson says reaction has been positive though he has no plans to monetize the website.
"I would like to reach as many people as possible, so I plan to keep the site free for the public."
For more on the science of jet lag, check out this article by Olson in the Scientific American.
Do you know how to prevent jet lag? Share your tips in the comments box below.