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Fighting Jet Lag with Light Therapy

I had just arrived home from a conference in San Francisco. 11 hours on the plane. My blood ached for caffeine, and my eyelids felt like they had become magnetically charged as I struggled to keep them open. But I couldn’t actually sleep – oh no. A week later, and I still struggled to wake up, and popped paracetamol for a nagging headache.

Jet lag.

Yes, I hear your commiserative groan. It’s dreadful.

Well, the folks over at Lumie use light therapy to help combat the surreal, wide-awake-at-midnight feelings. Jet lag is a disruption to our natural circadian rhythms – how our bodies cycle between daytime and night-time biological activities (like, you know, sleeping). So a calculated dose of light can help your body adjust more quickly to different time-zones.

Lumie researches and manufactures light-therapy products, such as clocks which wake you up with a calculated glow and lamps which combat seasonal affective disorder. Based on scientific research, they have even come up with a light-therapy schedule to fight jet-lag.

They asked us to build an online tool to put the schedule into action. The Jet Lag Optimiser is dead simple to use. You enter your journeys start and end cities, flight date, and the time you normally wake up.

Optimiser _top

What you get is a detailed, 3-day plan, with a schedule for seeking and avoiding light, and even when to take naps.

Optimiser _bot

From a technical point of view, the coolest thing about the optimiser is that it mashes up three different Google APIs. Google Places API powers the auto-complete when you start typing city names. To work out out exactly how many timezones you are crossing, we call on the well-named Timezones API. That way, the optimiser works it out without you having to count up timezones on your fingers. Finally, Maps API gives us the plotting and map.

Go give it a try; I wish I had when I was on the conference circuit.

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