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Socceroos: The high-tech sleep aids they're using to combat jet lag

ABC Health logoABC Health 6 days ago
a man sitting in a car © Provided by ABC Health

They look like something from a sci-fi film, but these anti-fatigue glasses tackle a very earthly problem.

"Re-Timer" specs are designed to combat jet lag in travellers moving across multiple time zones.

Many of the Socceroos wore them on the flight home from Honduras following their 0-0 draw in the first leg of their do-or-die World Cup qualifier.

Developed by researchers at Adelaide's Flinders University, the glasses shine glowing green-blue light into the eye of the wearer to help manipulate their production of melatonin — the hormone the body uses to induce sleep.

A study by Dr Helen Wright found that green-blue light was more effective at suppressing melatonin than the broad-spectrum wide light used in earlier products.

Dr Wright used that information to create Re-Timer glasses with the help of inventor and psychologist Professor Leon Lack.

"We developed these light devices to be portable in particular because previously you would have had to sit in front of a large light box," Professor Lack said.

For the Socceroos, that meant being able to reset their body clocks during their long-haul flight from Honduras to Sydney.

Players were encouraged to wear the glasses and stay awake during the initial 9.5-hour leg of the journey, before taking them off and sleeping during the second flight from Honolulu.

Professor Lack says without the glasses, the players could have struggled to adjust their bodies before their second match against Honduras in Sydney on Wednesday night.

"It would have meant they'd be playing the game at their body clock's time of about 2am, which is not the most opportune time," he said.

Professor Lack is also providing regular advice to the team about when to use the glasses, and for how long, to get the best effect.

"We hope that this will give us an advantage over the Honduras team," he said.

The glasses are also marketed at shift workers or "night owls" with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, with the promise of helping them adjust their sleep schedules.

The claims are backed by several independent sleep experts such as Dr Carmel Harrington.

"They do help. Absolutely," Dr Harrington said.

"It's not the panacea that people make them out to be, but they do help."

According to Dr Harrington, the glasses won't provide a complete "quick fix" but will help to ease reduce the impact of jet lag or diagnosed sleep problems.

Chair of the Sleep Health Foundation, Professor Dorothy Bruck, says products like Re-Timer glasses can work well in specific situations.

"Jetlag responds very well to light and the green-blue light the glasses use is at exactly the right wave-length to reset the circadian rhythms," Professor Bruck said.

But she warned it's important to get advice about when to wear them to get the best effect.

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