← Back to blog

How to fight jet lag with rocket science

22 Apr 2021

Brought to you by TravelPerk, the #1 business travel platform.

How to fight jet lag with rocket science

When it comes to traveling, jet lag is the uninvited guest at the party! Jet lag saps you of your energy, both physical and mental, reducing your ability to concentrate and affecting your mood. Sadly, some of us learn the hard way that combining the effects of jet lag and important business meetings can be a recipe for disaster! 

The symptoms of jet lag affect each of us differently, and historically we have had little control over how we feel when traveling between a number of time zones. There are many tips and tricks out there, but none of them can help us tackle the underlying cause of jet lag, and we still end up feeling the effects of our flight more often than not. So if like me, you slept on the plane, skipped your beloved cup of coffee, avoided sleeping pills, went for that morning jog, and still felt the side effects of jet lag, you’ve probably given up on ever finding an answer. Now, however, developments in circadian neuroscience and technology finally enable us to do something about it.

So, what have we been missing in our quest to cure jet lag?

Pug in a blanket

The root cause of jet lag is a disruption to our body’s internal circadian system, which helps us manage the regular rhythms of our day. Fifty thousand brain cells, located specifically in the hypothalamus, generate our near-24-hour circadian rhythm. These cells send signals throughout our brain and body to regulate our sleep patterns, digestion, and our hormones, and our behavior, including our mood, energy levels, and ultimately our performance throughout the day. The latest evidence shows that these rhythms even impact our immune function, which makes it all the more important to take jet lag seriously.

Normally, the rhythms from these cells are synchronized to 24 hours by the daily light-dark cycles. When we travel across time zones, the light-dark cycle changes too quickly for our body clock to keep up with and gets ‘out of sync’ with our behavioral patterns like sleeping and eating.  Jet lag is therefore caused by altering our exposure to light —not the change in our sleep, diet, or exercise as many believe to be the cause. When we hop on a long flight and switch time zones, our behavior is not aligned with our circadian clock, and that’s when the symptoms of jet lag begin. That’s why we feel hungry in the middle of the night or only start feeling tired as the sun comes up! Without taking any steps to counter your jet lag, it can take a whole day to adjust to just one hour’s worth of time difference. That means if you travel from New York to Beijing, it could take 12 days before you are adjusted to Beijing time and fully recovered from jet lag! Not only is this uncomfortable and unhealthy for you as a traveler, but it could also wipe out the productivity (and enjoyment) of your entire business trip. Now, thanks to recent developments in science and technology, combating jet lag is possible. 

Rocket scientists have uncovered the key to solving jet lag disorder

Astronauts have been putting themselves through severe physical challenges for decades. A world-renowned sleep and circadian neuroscientist translated the latest scientific research into an algorithm to aid astronauts with their rigorous schedules, including extensive travel, rocket launches, and spacewalks. Olympic athletes and Formula 1 teams now also use the algorithm to gain a new competitive advantage when they compete within a few days of landing off a long flight. 

So how does it work? Scientists have discovered that we can adapt to a new time zone 3 to 4 times quicker than normal by exposing ourselves to light, or avoiding it, in a coordinated schedule referred to as a Phase Responsive Curve or PRC. This curve measures our clock-resetting responses when exposed to light at different times and how it shifts in correspondence with our travel direction.

Keeping track of all this is not straightforward. The cabin lighting on planes can put our circadian rhythms into disarray, getting us off to a bad start before we even land. To complicate things further, we can’t measure this by following the local time, only by our internal biological clock. Plus, after you arrive, the times you need to eat, sleep, exercise, take in bright light, or avoid caffeine will all shift as you start to adjust to your new time zone. 

This technology is no longer just for astronauts and elite athletes

At Timeshifter, we know how important it is for professionals to feel refreshed and back to their full potential as soon as possible after traveling. That’s why we developed the Timeshifter jet lag app specifically with CEOs and corporate travelers in mind. The Timeshifter app allows business travelers to take advantage of all the latest scientific discoveries and create a highly personalized plan to beat jet lag in under a minute. Knowing when to take in bright light, avoid light, and how to use caffeine effectively are all key to getting your body clock back on track and ending the curse of jet lag disorder! With a simple to use interface, travelers receive easy-to-follow advice, with notifications that make it easy to follow your plan throughout a busy day. It even includes a Practicality Filter that ensures the advice is easy to follow in the “real world”.

Corporate travel is essential for any growing company, but failing to address the effects of jet lag has implications both in the short-term and for your employees’ long-term health. Business travel costs soon rack up, and without adjusting to a new time zone properly, your trip is likely to be marred by reduced productivity, an increase in mistakes, and even compromise your safety and health. 

Whether you are preparing to send your team on the road or getting ready for a corporate trip of your own, you will want to ensure you get the most out of your travel plans. That’s why TravelPerk and Timeshifter partnered up to help bring this cutting-edge technology to corporate travelers looking to stay healthy and keep ahead while working away from home. TravelPerk clients receive a 10% discount on Timeshifter licenses. To take advantage of this partnership and beat jet lag for good, speak with our team for more details.

Did you find this article useful?

If you did, please follow us on our social media accounts on LinkedIn or Instagram. Please share the article with your friends or colleagues!

paper plane