The Entrain app suggests the best lighting schedule to help travelers adjust to different time zones.
The well-traveled are all too familiar with jet lag and probably have their own ways of adjusting to or getting over it. Now they can try to do it with a new app developed by researchers at the University of Michigan Mathematics Department.
Entrain aims to help travelers monitor their body’s circadian rhythm and help them adjust to different time zones.
The name of the app comes from the term “entrainment” which refers to the “alignment of an organism’s circadian rhythm to that of an external rhythm in its environment.” The Entrain app is designed to “entrain” the user to a new schedule.
Jet lag occurs as a result of a disrupted circadian rhythm, which is primarily driven by light. Travelling long distances exposes people to light and dark when they aren’t expecting it and disrupts the rhythm.
The Entrain app helps users monitor their body’s circadian rhythm and suggests the mathematically optimal lighting schedule to help them adjust to new time zones. It asks the user several questions to figure out what time the user’s body thinks it is at the moment and takes the user’s light reports to track their body clock. The app then suggests when the user should seek out light or dark to help them adjust to a new time zone faster.
The light schedules are computed based on equations describing the circadian clock and what “moves” that clock from one phase to another in the least amount of time. The developers detailed the methodology they used to compute for the optimal light exposure schedule in a paper that was published on the journal PLOS Computational Biology.
The app is currently only available for iOS devices, but an Android version will be released soon based on feedback from the iOS version. Users can opt to submit their data to the developers to help them test and improve the schedules.
View the intro video for Entrain below.