Whether returning from a trail running trek through the Italian Dolomites or a hiking journey through the Balkans, jet lag can leave a sour taste after even the best vacations. Now, scientists have found a way for travelers to quickly reset their internal clocks.
A new study published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology shows that "the human circadian pacemaker is predicted to be capable of shifting much more rapidly than previously thought, simply by adjusting the timing of the beginning and end of each day." Researchers crunched the numbers on thousands of different sleep schedules and determined that, if effectively regimented, people can speedily reset their clock after a trip or other unusual sleeping schedule.
"Overcoming jet lag is fundamentally a math problem, and we've calculated the optimal way of doing it," says University of Michigan professor and study author Danny Forger.
The findings go beyond an academic paper. The study's researchers have made available a free iPhone app called Entrain that will suggest periods of time that users should spend in light to reset their biological clocks. Thanks to science, anyone with an iPhone now has a free and convenient cure for jet lag.
Avoiding jet lag also has health benefits. In addition to the short-term funks we're all familiar with, prolonged jet lag can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and late-onset diabetes.
Want to put the method to the test? We suggest one of the recipients of our 2014 Travel Awards.