Skepticism

Glasses that cure jet lag?

Wow, since I’ll be changing time zones 9 times on June 22, I wonder if I should buy a pair of these jet-lag cure glasses.

A new gadget promises to make jet lag a thing of the past. The Re-Time Jet Lag Glasses look like any other pair of glasses, but are fitted with LED lights that help reduce the effects of an altered body clock.

Developed by a sleep researcher, Re-Time uses no ultra violet radiation, and relies on the blue-green colors emitted by the LEDs to affect changes in the body clock or circadian rhythm, which causes jet lag. They’re portable, inexpensive and battery operated with a single 9-volt battery good for up to 20 hours of use.

Crap. According to the manufacturer, they won’t be available in time for my trip. I didn’t have jet lag at all when I went to England last year, so maybe I don’t need these anyway. Even so, I always wonder how the general public (including me) is supposed to figure out if stuff like this is a con. Their website is full of scientific sounding info and even has a page of sources. I tend to automatically think things like this are bogus, but that’s just my cynical side taking over. It’s not based on any rational evaluation of the claims.

Skeptical analysis anyone? 

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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19 Comments

  1. All I can think of in an absence of any scientific data is to test it yourself. Unfortunately, that means that you’ll have to do two things: 1) You have to actually buy the glasses. 2) You have to do a controlled, double-blinded test.

    In other words, if there’s no scientific data to back it up, you should stick with your assumption that it’s bogus, and just suffer through jet lag.

    I tend to feel better if I just try to adjust my sleep schedule to more closely fit to my destination, if possible.

  2. Using light to shift one’s circadian rhythm is well-tested and scientifically sound, but I wonder if those tiny LEDs are bright enough to have any appreciable effect. The light box that I use for my shift work problems has dozens of much larger, much brighter LEDs in it.

  3. While the basic concept is sound, I doubt the LEDs do much.

    A treatment for DSPS (delayed sleep phase syndrome which is somewhat like jet lag) is to expose the person to a light source of 10,000 lux for 30-90 minutes at the desired “wake” time. Its called phototherapy has has been tested to work in some DSPS cases.

    The idea behind it is that the production of melatonin by the pineal gland is inhibited by light and permitted by darkness and melatonin has a fair amount of control over the ‘sleep’ .

    The thing is, I doubt you are going to get much light out of these dinky little LEDS and a 9v battery – let alone 10000lux. So they have done the usual job of taking something medically valid and woo-ified it for a quick buck.

    You can read a bit more on phototherapy (light therapy) at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_therapy

  4. Given the fact that they couldn’t be bothered to use the correct choice between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ I don’t think I would invest much.

    I know it’s not dispositive, but it *is* indicative.

  5. I may be mistaken but I think I remember reading somewhere that the circadian is most affected by light of a wavelength somewhere in the blue end of the spectrum so the use of green LEDs might be a serious flaw.

  6. They look cool in a science-fictiony/Devo kind of way, and you can always count on the placebo effect to convince you you aren’t jet lagged.
    I’ve always relied on staying up the first day until local bedtime, however painful that may be, and I get into the local rhythm that way.

  7. I’ve found a great cure for jet lag: paying for checked luggage+1 carry-on+40% increase in airline ticket prices.

    If you have to take a boat from New York to London, you experience almost no jet lag at all.

  8. Luckily, my sleep schedule is so broken, I’m completely immune to jet lag. Score one for massive insomnia!

    Oh gosh … I laughed out loud at that one. (Since LOL doesn’t usually mean it literally, I opted to spell it out.) Good point, too! So, hey, I can travel anywhere I want! Anybody want to see a sleep-deprived semi-skeptic and feed me lunch?

    After having dealt with years of Seasonal Affective Disorder every winter (thank you so much, Pacific Northwest), I finally hauled my depressed butt into a doctor a few winters ago and got set up with a full-spectrum light box. Whatever skeptical strains I come by naturally are in full force when it comes to alternate medicine, so I was fully prepared for this not to work. (They didn’t have to worry about the placebo effect with me, that’s for sure.) Surprisingly, it did.

    However, it’s a LOT of light. Very bright, and very close to the face. The closer it is to your eyes, the fewer lumens required (which makes a certain amount of sense), so they do have these dorky looking sun-visor type things with lights built in that have lower wattage than the table-top or ceiling-mounted ones. Even still, there has to be quite a lot of light for them to work even close up, and I would be ASTOUNDED if these are bright enough to have the equivalent effect even if the blue/green light thing is true.

    Anybody know about that, the blue/green light spectrum? My research is just in the full-spectrum area, and this one’s new to me.

  9. The article I read was from some time ago but I think the gist of it was the researchers thought there was a particular band in the blue-green spectrum that was important in setting the circadian rhythm in the morning.

  10. What is the point of these anyway? Bright blue/green LED’s shining in your Eyes from less than a centimeter away. How are you supposed to see beyond the glasses?
    And if they aren’t that bright they probably won’t work.

    Besides that, they would look mucho cool at a rave-party!

  11. Sure. you like Chinese? Italian? Greek? Texas?

    LOL! OK, let’s see … so-so on Chinese, HECK YEAH on Italian and Greek, and I’ve never had real Texas cuisine so I don’t know. Anything’s worth trying once, though. ;) And the good news is that if we’re both insomniacs we can eat in the middle of the night!

  12. Luckily, it just so happens there’s a 24-hour Greek restaurant in the general vicinity…. if you want Italian in the middle of the night, though, that would mean me cooking, so it would NOT be anything like authentic Italian.

    Texas, by the way has the best food in the world. My opinion here is admittedly biased, however I am at least judging from a stupidly wide sampling when I say it.

    Things to note – you cannot get good Mexican food outside of the state of Texas. Especially not in Mexico. Some people say Tex-Mex isn’t really Mexican food, but they are wrong, as Texas was part of Mexico until relatively recently. That makes it a regional variant. Also, you cannot get chili at all outside of Texas. If you think you’ve had chili somewhere else, you’re wrong. Seriously. Chili is not a soup, appetizer, or side dish. Chili is full meal unto itself – often three or four full meals.

  13. NY? I’m certain to draw a lot of ire with a question like this, but: what has New York EVER contributed to the culinary world? Come on… Super thin pizza that can’t hold toppings? Mustard and sour kraut on the same hot dog?

    Honestly, some of the things you Yankees have the audacity to call food… makes me ill to think about it… Clams? WTF?

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