Perform Better with Jet Lag

valkee-brain.jpgMost of the time I really love living in China. And then there are times I don’t – such as when I think I’m ordering one thing at a restaurant and a completely different dish comes out. But mostly it’s when I have to travel to America for something. This past month, I had the very unfortunate opportunity to have to travel back to the states for one day (although it was for a very fortunate event!). But it was a GREAT excuse to try out these super cool blue light headphones that Valkee sent to me to experiment with my athletes as they finalize their travel programs for the Olympics. For an athlete, strategies for jet lag management can greatly improve readiness to perform during competitions.

Valkee Human Charger is a headset that transmits light to the photoreceptors of the brain to influence circadian rhythm. This helps with mood, energy, performance, and jet lag. In order to mitigate the negative effects of jet lag, the Human Charger is used on a schedule that generally begins 2 days before travel and lasts until 2 days after completion of travel. A phone APP makes it easy to enter flight information and automatically generate a schedule with reminders for use.

IMG_2306So after entering my flight information into the iPhone APP, a schedule was generated (see photo on the left). I was flying on a Wednesday and my program began with 2 sessions on both Monday and Tuesday. Each session lasts 15 minutes, which is automatically programmed into the device. When the APP alerts you for “Human Charger Time,” you put the headphones on, press the big black button and in 15 minutes it will automatically turn off.

During the 14 hour plane ride, the first chunk of time was lights out. I’ve traveled enough to be good at creating “days” and “nights” out of my flight time so I slept for most of that first chunk. For the second half of the flight, Human Charger scheduled sessions every other hour. Similar schedule was done the next day, and then for my subsequent travel back. Again, the last program was 2 days after I landed back in China.

I followed the program about 75% — missed 2 sessions while I was in Boston, and missed 2 at the end while back in Beijing because of work. Nonetheless, the result was pretty amazing. I’m generally very sensitive to jet lag, and during my flash trip I didn’t feel the same wall that I have in the past. In addition, I didn’t have issues with waking up in the middle of the night.

Valkee-black-anti-depression-miniI am cautiously optimistic about these blue light headphones, and look forward to trying them again. Overall, ringing in at under $200, I think these headphones are well worth the potential benefit. Remember that light exposure is only one of many important strategies for circadian rhythm management, including sleep, exercise, and meal scheduling. I just sent one of my athletes to a competition in Turkey with them, along with a comprehensive travel program designed by the Performance Coach (Mark Dixon, MSc, RSCC, ASCC), so stay tuned!

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