As a person who travels for work, and then continues to travel for pleasure, I have heard (and tried) every remedy and gimmick to avoid or Beat Jet Lag, what I haven’t really found is anything that works on a regular basis. As a travel writer, you get to see a lot of interesting ideas and concepts of things for travelers, some things are interesting, others are true gimmicks, others can be seen to be a total flop before they are even produced, but every so often you come across something that seems too science fiction – but yet think… it just might work… Well this is one of those.
So, we found this thing called the Human Charger. It was passed along to me by a coworker as a “take a look at this one…” with just a hint of sarcasm, but my reaction was, more to the effect of, “Wow, that kinda makes sense, this just might work.” The idea is basic and almost too simple. You take a pair of headphones and put them in your ears, only you won’t be projecting sound into your ears, but rather light. Yes, light. While it sounds odd, I am in fact being serious. First though, let me tell you why I’m even interested in this thing.
Currently, I work as a flight attendant and I also travel to work on a variety of projects documenting everything from restaurants to hotels and destinations – both require a huge amount of travel. As a flight attendant I mainly work long haul international routes on trips which means crossing between as many as 9-12 time zones in as few as 4 days back and forth, which means I’m basically fast forwarding my clock and then rewinding it. Adding more hours in one day and then taking them all back the next. There are some days where my brain literally feels like someone has cooked it, stirred up and then served it. I’m useless, none the less waking up in a hotel I don’t know, and spend the next 30-90 seconds trying to remember what I did before I went to sleep so I can figure out what city – if not what country – I am in when I wake up.
You might not know it but there is a reason for jet lag. It’s called a Cirdadian Rhythm. Our bodies actually have an internal chronometer, a true biological clock built into our brain. So, how does one know when it’s morning, noon or night? That’s right, it depends on how much sunlight we see. Without getting overly technical, basically, you have light sensitive receptors in your eyes, little guys called Opsins. They are awesome and convert the light you see which is simple white light which is considered photonic energy, that is converted into neurons that go to your brain saying “Wake up, look at the light we’re getting!” or “not much light out there anymore…” These signals then get sent to start regulating hormone function which tells other organs and body parts what they need to do. Your body builds a clock based on these light signals and the time that you get them. This is why your body wakes up when you get sunlight on your face, you can still detect light through your eyelids!
For those of you who travel a lot you’ll notice that if you’re able to get a decent night sleep on an overnight international flight, you adjust better to the time change at your destination. If you can get a few hours of true REM sleep then wake up when the sun comes up you’ll adjust easier. This is kind of similar.
I have to admit, I was more than a little skeptical when I first looked at this thing along with the idea behind it. The more I thought about it the more I realized I already had some experience with this idea and the technology behind it. Years ago I dated an amazing guy who was often depressed but more so during the winter. He finally went to a doctor about his depression, after explaining everything to him, the doctor told him he like had a disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder, aptly titled with the acronym SAD. Basically, what doctors and researchers are finding out is that, we as humans, need sunlight, more so than we realize. However, we sit indoors for most of our lives. We sleep inside our houses, we get in our cars and then go to buildings and sit inside again, come home and do it all over again, gaining very little sunlight in the process. Ever find yourself outside, feel the sun on your face, then find yourself closing your eyes and moving your head upward to feel the full sun’s presence on your face? There is a reason for that, it’s called instinct. We actually know that we need sun.
While again, I was a little skeptical on the idea, I was more skeptical on the idea of shoving light into my ears, and that it would magically make me feel better. However, after a few clicks into Google, it turns out that those little Opsins I mentioned earlier, well turns out they are all over the place, and one of those places is actually on the surface of our brains. What’s one of the easiest ways to the brain? Through the ear. Strangely enough, the Scandinavian Physiological Society has already published findings of Opsins on the outer part of the brain. A study done in 2012 found that the human brain is quite responsive to light. Very interesting considering how dark it must be in there.
So, how do you use this thing?
You put the earbuds on, then push the power button. You’ll then get a UV-Free blue-enriched white light, that will flood into your ear canal and into the light sensitive regions of the brain. Let it go for 12 minutes and that’s it. You’ll have more energy and your feeling of tiredness from jet lag will be reduced if not minimal. You can continue to reuse this over and over to reduce the tiring effects of jet lag.
The company that created this gadget also made an app so you can enter your flight times in, it will tell you the most optimal time to use it and how often, to reduce jet lag. So, there is no worry in using it at the wrong time and messing up your body clock even more.
While it certainly is futuristic, it’s so simple that it is almost surprising that no one thought of this before. It seems to work and does exactly what it says, alleviate jet lag. It’s only about the size on an iPhone. Crazy as it would sound, it seems to work.
Have you used the Human Charger or got it on Amazon? Tell us about your experience!