Recent studies show that people may be able to trick their bodies into believing that dawn is breaking earlier than it actually is, a “life-hack” to overcoming Jetlag.
Stanford discovered that by using a flashing alarm clock to hack into the circadian rhythm of the human body, Jetlag can and may be prevented. Most of us are quite familiar with the sluggish, lethargic feeling experienced after traveling across time zones as our body tries to adjust to the change in daylight times. Scientists have now found a way to trick your “biological clock” into thinking that dawn is breaking earlier.
By submitting to a series of short flashes of light while having a nap just before a trip, scientists have proven that : "This could be a new way of adjusting much more quickly to time changes than other methods in use today," said Dr Jamie Zeitzer, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Stanford University”.
Described by Dr Zeitzer as “Biological Hacking” fooling the brain into believing that the day has begun earlier. The study involved taking a group 39 individuals aged 19 – 36, synching up their sleeping patterns, (falling asleep and awaking at the same time) to provide a control to the experiment, for 14 days. Thereafter, 50% of the participants had to sleep in the lab while subjected to series of flashes, ranging in frequency for an hour.
Results showed that a frequency of 2milliseconds of flashing light (comparable to that of a camera flash) 10 seconds apart triggered a 120 minute shift to the inception of somnolence. This thereby created a ‘false dawn’ in the brain, closely illustrating the sunrise in a new time zone traveling while traveling easterly.
Dr Zeitzer described how the therapy during the night could be used to adapt to travelling through a 5h time shift, for example, from Britain to the Maldives, "If you are flying to New York tomorrow, tonight you use the light therapy," he said. "If you normally wake up at 8 am, you set the flashing light to go off at 5 a.m. “When you get to New York, your biological system is already in the process of shifting to East Coast time".
The body needs roughly 5 days to completely recover from a 5 hour time shift, roughly working out to a day for every time shift hour, causing fatigue, lack of alertness, a general feeling of discontent and even gastrointestinal problems.
Scientists leading the experiment also say that the technology could perhaps help shift workers adjust to unusual working patterns.
Dr Zeitzer included "We have found that most people can sleep through the flashing light just fine, and that flashing-light therapy used at night could be a great method of helping to adjust the internal biological clock for all kinds of sleep cycle disruptions - from medical residents whose sleeping schedules are constantly changing, to night-shift workers who want to be awake during daylight hours on the weekends, to sleepy truck drivers whose sleep schedules are constantly changing.