We’ve all been there: travelling abroad, excited to dive into a new city and a new culture, but also very sleepy. When you’ve saved and planned a long time to get to your dream vacation the last thing you want is to lose time adjusting to the local clock.
Enter Entrain, the app designed to help sync your circadian rhythms and get on local time – and feeling rested, faster. Our natural cycles of sleep and waking are wired into our brains, but with greater understanding of how they function, we can work with our bodies to give them what they need to make us feel rested and let us enjoy our vacations.
The app was designed by academics at the University of Michigan and is backed by good science. Studies prove that lighting is the primary driving factor of our sleep cycles, and the app creates lighting schemes for you to use based on your usual sleep schedule, average daytime light exposure and the destination to which you will be travelling. By adjusting your light exposure before the trip, you can get your body closer to the rhythm of your destination before you even arrive. You’ll be sleeping like a local from day one.
The app makes recommendations for types and durations of light exposure based on the information you input. It will tell you to stay in the dark for certain hours, and get in the light for others. Recognizing that this may not match up with the requirements of your day (business meeting in the dark?) it simply asks that you update in real time as you go about your day, with the type of exposure you are actually getting. The more information the app has, the better it can make recommendations for you. They even have recommendations for ways to “cheat” the system, like wearing sunglasses to at least partially limit light intake for specified periods.
The app lets you customize how long you would like to spend preparing for a trip, as well as a number of other variables. The fact that the app allows you to customize settings for your particular schedule is great for families. Early to bed, early to rise types? Do the kids keep very specific hours? The customizable settings of the app allow you to dial in your family’s exact needs for the best possible experience.
Entrain is available to download for FREE on both iTunes and the Google Play store.
Don’t have a smartphone? You can check out the light schemes recommended in the app through this paper in PLoS Computation Biology— all schedules that are in the app are summarized in Figure 4.