Conquer 'lag,' rise early: Science solves sleep
Summer is winding down, but for those still in travel mode can jet lag be overcome? And for those heading back to school and early mornings, is it possible to rise AND shine? Simon Fraser University researcher Jay Olson has answers for both.
Earlier this year Olson unveiled a website – JetLagRooster.com – to help travellers calculate how to avoid or lessen the impact of jet lag. Today he is launching new iPhone and Android apps based on his computational approach.
And seeing further applications, Olson is also launching a new website, EarlyWaker.com, which promises to aid those who have difficulty waking up early and feeling alert. The new site should be of particular interest to students – and even teachers – heading back to class in September.
Both Jet Lag Rooster and Early Waker offer free personalized plans to deal with these sleep issues. For example, the travel app suggests controlling exposure to bright light at particular times, based on the number of time zones being crossed.
"Bright light can help shift the body clock," Olson explained earlier this year in Scientific American: Mind Matters. "By following the jet lag plan, travellers can reduce or completely prevent jet lag."
Olson, who is completing a stint as a teaching assistant in SFU's psychology department, says the online version of Jet Lag Rooster has generated over 175,000 jet lag plans for travellers in 200 countries.
SWAN Solutions, a California company specializing in applying scientific research to improve sleep, created the iPhone and Android apps, which aim to make accessing the plans even easier.
Last February, Olson presented Jet Lag Rooster at a flight safety conference. "I asked the attendees whether they trained their pilots and flight attendants in jet lag prevention rather than just fatigue management. Only one person said yes," recounts Olson, who this fall will pursue a Master's of Science degree at McGill University. He hopes that his accessible solution to aiding jet lag will also help pilots and flight crew.