Take the 2-minute tour ×
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The Daily Telegraph (via yesterday’s Independent.ie) carried an article titled “Hi-tech 'sunglasses' could banish jet-lag,” which claimed:

Australian sleep researches have developed a set of hi-tech "sunglasses", described as the world's first "time-control" spectacles, which can imitate sunlight patterns. The team, from Flinders University, in Adelaide, say the glasses emit a soft green glow that helps a traveler adapt to changing sleep patterns and time zones in "small steps". It targets a part of the brain that regulates the human body-clock, by sending signals to the rest of the body that help it slowly realise it is in a different area of the world.

Are we really towards the goal for banishing jet-lag during travels?

I'm skeptical of this claim, so I wonder if there are facts to prove it.

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted
+100

TL;DR: Yes, they work, but they aren't for sale, and they have competition.

The first question to address is whether the claims in the Daily Telegraph match the claims made by the actual researchers.

The research team being quoted is the Sleep Research Laboratory in the School of Psychology at Flinders University.

The team does indeed make such claims:

Research shows that bright light visual stimulation (light which enters the eyes), can change the timing of the body clock and its timing of sleep or awakening signals to the body. Thus, bright light therapy has been used to treat the range of disorders caused by a mis-timed body clock including shift work, jet lag, sleep onset and early morning insomnia mentioned above as well as winter depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD).

[...]

Because of their small size and relatively inexpensive components, the LED glasses will be less expensive than the presently marketed light boxes. They suffer none of the handicaps of light boxes listed above. One of their main advantages is that our research has confirmed their body clock re-setting effects which are the basis of treatment for all of the above conditions.

[...]

At present the LED glasses are still experimental devices. They are not yet commercially available.

They cite their own research, such as

These data suggest the portable LED light source is an effective way of delivering light to phase shift the melatonin rhythm, with the blue/green LED being the more effective of the two LEDs.

That research confirms the basis of the technology, but not that it works in a set of glasses. But these researchers are from Flinders University (in Adelaide, South Australia), and so is my BSc degree, so clearly their claims are completely correct! It is the Flinders way!

But if you insist on wasting everyone's time by checking that these results have been reproduced independently...

In this study 14 subjects were given a range of different phototherapies, including LED spectacles.

All phototherapy devices produced melatonin suppression and significant phase delays. Sleepiness was significantly decreased with the light tower, the light visor, and the Litebook. Task performance was only slightly improved with phototherapy. The LED spectacles and light visor caused greater subjective performance impairment, more difficulty viewing the computer monitor and reading printed text than the light tower or the Litebook. The light visor, the Litebook, and the LED spectacles caused more eye discomfort than the light tower.

So these scientists from Defence R&D Canada - some random institute that isn't prestigious enough to be based in Adelaide - found that, yes, the LED glasses work, but they aren't the most convenient form-factor for phototherapy.

share|improve this answer
    
It's not every day that you read ... that isn't prestigious enough to be based in Adelaide! –  Mark Henderson Dec 4 '12 at 22:07
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.