Our ability to visit new countries in a matter of hours has never been easier. Sadly, this also means the disruption suffered by crossing multiple time zones is more difficult than ever to avoid.
Regulating the light-dark cycle is a key factor in maintaining a healthy sleep pattern. It is this light-dark cycle that is disrupted when we travel from one time zone to another, our eyes receiving light at the ‘wrong’ times of day. So when we get to our destination, we often find ourselves going to bed at 5pm despite it still being light outside, and waking up at 2am before even the birds have arisen. In addition, natural light color changes over the day: from bluish white light in the morning to bright light at lunch and finally to red light in the evening – reflecting the sunrise until sunset we are all adapted to by nature.
Yet it’s not just about limiting our exposure to light, but limiting the wrong kinds of light. It is our need to counter melatonin production at the wrong time of day, and failure to produce it at the right time of day, that results in jet lag.
So how, exactly, can light improve matters? Well, for starters, we could use a light shower, preferably with bright bluish white light.
The Photon Shower prototype was produced by Delta to mark a TED talk by Dr. Russell Foster, a neuroscientist specializing in the science of sleep. Its function is simple: to reset the body’s circadian rhythms through the use of differing types of light, depending on the time of day and where you have travelled from.
Can you imagine being able to get rid of jet lag in the length of time it takes to wash your hair?
You don’t need a futuristic shower to achieve the same effect, however, because we can already use products to create similar effects within the home. For example, if you have a Philips Hue system, you can set it to automate both dimming the lights and changing the color depending on the time of day, making our bedside lamp more in tune with our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
Imagine if, in the future, we used these lighting principles while on flights. We might be able to stop jet lag from even happening, and consign our post-flight tiredness to history.
Have you used any lighting innovations to counter jet lag? What’s the worst thing about jet lag that you’d love to fix with lighting?