A video titled “The Science of Jet Lag,” presented as a TED Luncheon Talk, was sponsored by Delta Airlines and looks at the causes, effects and ways to counteract the phenomenon known as jet lag. Conducted by Professor Russell Foster, FRS, Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford, the TED talk looks at how our natural rhythms or “body clocks” affect our ability to perform tasks.
Foster draws attention to how impaired our abilities are when we are forced to do tasks at an unusual time, claiming “studies have shown that our abilities to perform cognitive tasks at four o’clock in the morning are as impaired as if we had consumed sufficient alcohol to make us legally drunk.”
Foster then illustrates the problems with jet lag and how a flight, such as the London to Los Angeles flight used in the video, knocks all off our body rhythms out of sync and how our eyes, specifically light sensitive cells, are instrumental in regulating this 24-hour body clock.
He then illustrates how, by exposing oneself to light, or dark, at certain times during the day or night, one can reduce the impact of jet lag by tricking the body into adjusting its body clock.
The battle against jet lag has also been taken up by a number of websites such as “Jet Lag Rooster” which was launched earlier in January. Users of this free website simply enter their departure point, destination, take off and landing times as well as the hours they normally sleep and when they wish to begin changing their sleeping patterns and the website creates a “jet lag plan” advising them when to “seek” or “avoid” light.