New wearable technology to overcome jet lag developed

Researchers have developed a way to counter jet lag by delivering personalised advice using smart wearable technology that may help frequent travellers to get better quality sleep across the time zones

Representative image. (AFP Photo)

Researchers have developed a way to counter jet lag by delivering personalised advice using smart wearable technology that may help frequent travellers to get better quality sleep across the time zones.

Researchers- including those from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the US, said alterations in the body's internal clock- called the circadian rhythm, causes people to experience jet lags.

They added that this internal clock helps to regulate the body's physiological processes, like sleep, metabolism, hormone secretion, and even the functioning of the brain.

In the study published on Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers demonstrated a series of algorithms which could analyse biometric information recorded by a smart device, and then recommend the best combination of sleep and light to help a person readjust their circadian rhythm.

"Using these algorithms and a mathematical model of a person's circadian rhythm, we have the ability to compute the best light to adjust the circadian rhythm and foster well-being. This opens the opportunity to create a smart and healthy environment," said Agung Julius, a study co-author from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Julius said the new tool also recommends the kind of sleep required- including both how much and when it should be received.

Researchers say that people's energy, alertness, and other biological processes suffer when their circadian rhythm doesn't align with the time zone they are trying to follow.

"The circadian and sleep processes are also very tightly related to your mental state and how alert you are. If you try to do something in the wrong time of day, your alertness is not going to be as effective as when you do it in the right time of day, as defined by your circadian clock," Julius said.

Usually, a person's circadian rhythm variation is determined using information gathered from a blood or saliva test which measures melatonin (hormone) levels.

The researchers felt this approach to be time-consuming, as obtaining these test results takes time, and doesn't allow for instant analysis.

However, in the current study, the researchers have used algorithms developed to process data- like heart rate and body temperature, collected from wearable smart technology.

They said these algorithms converted the data from wearable technology into an estimate of a person's circadian rhythm variation.

The estimates generated by the algorithms were in line with the hormone measurement techniques used by medical labs, the scientists confirmed.

"The question, however, is whether virtual data can provide accurate an estimation as the clinical standard," Julius said.

With the new technology, the researchers said, it is now possible to efficiently use light to optimise and maintain human health and performance. 

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