Every traveler has suffered from jet lag at some point, and there’s no magical cure that works for everyone. However, some things can help. Technology, surprisingly, is one of them.
Apps are one of the newest ways travelers have started combating jet lag, but can your phone really heal your exhausted and confused body and mind when enduring an 11-hour time change?
Maybe so. By regulating your circadian rhythms, relaxing you enough to put you to sleep or instructing you to do self-acupressure to reset your internal body clock, these five apps could help mitigate your jet lag.
Timeshifter studies what time(s) of the day your eyes should or shouldn’t be exposed to light to combat jet lag. TIMESHIFTER
Timeshifter relies on sleep and circadian neuroscience research to provide personalized recommendations for every traveler. It takes into consideration your age, gender and normal sleep patterns, as well as specifics about your trip and travel plans. The app suggests when you should avoid or seek light, take a nap or stay awake, even if you should consider melatonin or caffeine. There’s also a quick turnaround feature for business travelers who need to be on point during short trips. Timeshifter has just launched a second app for shift workers.
When testing it, I liked the easy-to-read notifications, which told me when to get bright light, avoid caffeine and go to sleep. However, sometimes, they may not be so simple to follow. If you’re tasked with getting bright light, but it’s raining or you have meetings, or you’re instructed to sleep on a plane but there’s turbulence and you can’t, you won’t be able to follow your plan exactly as specified.
Timeshifter is available for iPhones and Android devices. Your first jet-lag plan is free and the second is $9.99, or you can enjoy unlimited plans for a year for $24.99. Some United elite flyers can get it for free; the airline offers a one-year subscription to Premier 1K members and an additional free Timeshifter plan to other MileagePlus members. Six Senses also offers a complimentary jet-lag plan with any hotel booking.
Insight Timer is one of the most popular free mediation apps out there. It may not cure jet lag, but listening to a yoga nidra sequence or the sounds of meditation bells may just lure you into slumber — or at least help you relax — either on a plane or after you’ve arrived at your destination. With almost 130,000 different meditations to choose from, there should be one (or many) that fits your needs.
You can download Insight Timer for iPhone or Android. It costs $59.99 per year for offline mode, additional meditations and other premium services. If you don’t love Insight Timer, there are plenty of other meditation and relaxation apps out there; Calm and Headspace are other popular choices.
Similar to Timeshifter, StopJetLag provides personalized advice for travelers to reset their body clocks and beat jet lag by telling them when and when not to sleep, when to seek out light, when and what to eat (including the size of each meal), when to exercise, when to drink caffeine and more. Once you input your trip summary, you get a personalized, downloadable plan with all the information you need to know, including an agenda, notes and mobile alerts.
The app also recommends the best flying times to help travelers avoid jet lag in the first place, which could be useful if you haven’t yet purchased a plane ticket.
While the app’s interface feels a little dated, we do love that you can arrange for it to pull your itineraries directly from TripIt. Download StopJetLag for free for iPhone and Android. Plans cost $45 each.
A white-noise app can help you sleep either during your flight or once you’re at your destination, helping curtail that pesky jet lag. BetterSleep features sound categories that include animal, city, music, nature, binaural beats and ASMR. You can layer several sounds at once, adjusting the volume of each until you achieve your ideal medley of city rain, Zen piano and cat purrs — or whatever white noise will lull you into a deep sleep. Once you find your favorite combination, you can save it for next time in the “save mix” section.
The app also features bedtime stories, meditations, breathing exercises and physical and mental guided plans deemed “Sleep Moves,” some of which were specifically created for overcoming jet lag or sleeping better during travel.
This app uses a slightly different method to help jet-lagged travelers reset: biorhythmic acupressure. Once you fill in your trip itinerary (departure and arrival cities, dates and times), Uplift gives you a few exercises to do upon landing with an instructional video, which includes putting pressure on different points on your body for a minute here and a minute there, helping your body adjust naturally to the new time zone.
After trying it out on a trip from Madrid, Spain, to San Jose, Costa Rica (a seven-hour time difference), it didn’t quite cure my jet lag, but I think it helped me adjust to the new time zone faster. Also, I slept more soundly than usual after, without waking up at strange hours throughout the night.
Give these apps a try
Will anything completely cure your jet lag? Maybe not. However, these apps may help significantly shorten jet lag’s annoying symptoms or make you feel calmer and more rested during your trip. From acupressure to sunshine, the jet lag remedies offered by these apps are certainly worth a try.