'New smart wearable technology to overcome jet lag developed'
Researchers have developed a way to counter jet lag by delivering personalized advice using smart wearable technology, an advance that may help people who travel frequently across time zones get better quality sleep.
The researchers, including those from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the US, said alterations in the body's internal clock -- called the circadian rhythm -- cause people to experience jet lags.
They added that this internal clock helps regulate many of our physiological processes, including sleep, metabolism, hormone secretion, and even how our brain functions.
In the study, published on Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers demonstrated a series of algorithms that can analyze 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 your circadian rhythm and foster your well-being.
This opens the opportunity to create a smart and healthy environment," said Agung Julius, study co-author from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Julius said the new tool also recommends the kind of sleep -- both how much and when it should be received -- that a person needs.
According to the researchers, people's energy, alertness, and other biological processes can 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 if 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 that measures levels of the hormone melatonin.
This approach had a problem, according to the researchers, as obtaining these test results takes time, and doesn't allow for instant analysis.
In the current study, the researchers used algorithms they 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 said.
"The question is whether that kind of data can give you as 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 optimize and maintain human health and performance.