Can an app really help you ditch jetlag?
JETLAG is the scourge of all travellers.
No matter how glamorous travel can be, there is nothing glamorous about falling asleep in a meeting or waking up ravenous at 2am.
Depending on which time zones and hemispheres you are travelling to and from, it can take over a week to correct. And with school holidays almost upon us and families travelling far and wide in the next couple of months, who has time for that?
Enter the Timeshifter app.
Timeshifter combines the only elements shown to significantly reset the circadian clock (light exposure and melatonin), and alleviate the symptoms (melatonin, caffeine, naps) - basically how our body reacts to the earth rotating around the sun.
It claims it can help you beat jet lag based on just three pieces of information: your sleep pattern, your itinerary, and whether you're a morning or a night person. It then uses these metrics to generate your very own jet lag plan.
The app claims to be developed by world-renowned scientists, based on the latest sleep and circadian neuroscience and used by astronauts and elite athletes. It also claims that in addition to light, the right type and dose of melatonin, at the right time, can help you shift faster and sleep better.
Sounds like a load of scientific claptrap doesn't it. So, I decided it to test it out.
My fiancée and I had a whirlwind four-day trip from Brisbane to Los Angeles last month. Our itinerary was relentless (two days in LA, two in San Diego), we had things arranged every hour of every day and we had outlet malls to hit for Christmas shopping.
This would be a true survival of the fittest. There would be no time for jetlag. So, we signed up for Timeshifter.
Based on our departure time it created a unique pre-travel adjustment plan. It told us when to have extreme light, when to have subdued lighting, when to go to bed, when to have caffeine and when to sleep.
We followed our pre-travel adjustment plan to the letter and some of it felt a bit unnatural - like going to bed at 7pm on one of the nights, having a nap in the middle of the day on one of the other days, and not consuming caffeine after 11am on some of the days.
It was full-on, but Timeshifter does say that if you can't do all the steps, just tackle the ones you can.
On the morning of our departure it had us getting up at 4am and having bright light (not hard in Queensland in summer with no daylight savings) and getting onto the flight at 8.30pm that night and sleeping for five hours before waking up again.
It sounds like a lot. But the app sends reminders and push notifications to you and your personalised schedule give you great visibility of what your day will look like.
So, we followed all the steps religiously. We left Australia at 8.30pm and landed in LA at 3.20pm. And we felt good. We went out for dinner, wandered around and stayed up until about 10pm before giving in to sleep.
But the next day my fiancee and I felt amazing.
We smashed through a whole day of sightseeing, went to a concert with a very late finish, burned the candle at both ends . . . with zero jet lag at all.
Surely it would hit us coming home then? But it didn't.
The late night LA departure, the Queensland sunshine on arrival and suggested hints from the app kept us wide awake and revived until bedtime.
The pre-planning may not be for everyone, but I'm keen to keep using this app in my travels so I can really make the most of my time when I'm on the ground - and up in the air!
Download the Timeshifter app. Your first flight is free, after that it's $9.99 per trip or an annual subscription of $24.99 (US dollars).