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Every traveler has suffered from jet lag at some point, and there’s really no magical cure that works for everyone. But there are some things that can help — and technology, perhaps surprisingly — is one of them.
Apps are one of the newest ways travelers have started combating jet lag, but can your phone really heal your tired, confused body and mind when enduring an 11-hour time change? Maybe so. By regulating your circadian rhythms, relaxing you enough to put you to sleep or instructing you to do self-acupressure to reset your internal body clock, these six apps could help mitigate your jet lag.
Timeshifter relies on sleep and circadian neuroscience research to provide personalized recommendations for every traveler, taking into consideration your age, gender and normal sleep patterns — as well as specifics about your trip and travel plans. It will suggest when you should avoid or seek light; take a nap or stay awake; even if you should consider melatonin or caffeine. There’s also a quick turnaround feature for business travelers who need to be on point during short trips. Timeshifter has even partnered with Under Armour and is providing the service to traveling athletes.
When testing it, I liked the easy-to-read notifications, telling me to get bright light, avoid caffeine or go to sleep. But sometimes, they may not be so simple to follow. If you’re tasked with getting bright light, but it’s raining or you have meetings, or you’re instructed to sleep on a plane but there’s turbulence and you can’t, you won’t be able to follow your specific plan exactly as specified.
A free app that regulates your circadian rhythm, Entrain makes suggestions to help your body adjust to a new time zone by increasing or decreasing your exposure to light. Named after the word entrainment, it refers to the “alignment of an organism’s circadian rhythm to that of an external rhythm in its environment.” By following the app’s suggestions of when to seek out light and when to avoid exposure, you’ll hopefully adjust to your new time zone as quickly as possible.
Insight is one of the most popular free mediation apps out there, and while it may not cure jet lag, listening to a yoga nidra sequence or the sounds of meditation bells may just lure you into slumber — or at least help you relax, either on a plane or after you’ve arrived at your destination. With almost 14,000 different meditations to choose from, the app will have the right one for you.
Similar to Timeshifter, StopJetLag provides personalized advice for travelers to reset their body clocks and beat jet lag by telling them when and when not to sleep; when to seek out light; when and what to eat (including the size of each meal); when to exercise; when to drink caffeine and more. Once you input your trip summary, you get a personalized, downloadable plan with all the information you need to know including an agenda, notes and mobile alerts. The app also recommends the best flying times to help travelers avoid jet lag in the first place, which could be useful if you haven’t yet purchased a plane ticket.
An alternative to guided meditations, a white-noise app can help you sleep either once in your destination or while you’re still onboard a flight, helping curtail that pesky jet lag. Relax Melodies has sound categories like animal, city, music, nature and more. You can layer several sounds at once, adjusting the volume of each until you achieve your ideal medley of city rain, zen piano and cat purrs — or whatever it is that lures you into a deep sleep. Once you find your favorite combination, you can save it for next time in the “save mix” section.
This app uses a slightly different method to help jet-lagged travelers reset: biorhythmic acupressure. Once you fill in your trip itinerary (departure and arrival cities, dates and times), Uplift gives you a few exercises to do upon landing with an instructional video, which include putting pressure on different points on your body for a minute here and a minute there, helping your body adjust naturally to the new time zone.
After trying it out myself on a trip from Madrid to San Jose, Costa Rica (a seven-hour time difference), it didn’t quite cure my jet lag, but I think it helped me adjust to the new time zone faster. And, I slept more soundly than usual after, without waking up at strange hours throughout the night.
Have you had success with a jet lag app? Sound off in the comments section below.
Featured image by Hernan Sanchez via Unsplash.
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