Beating jet lag is the main focus behind the AYO Light Therapy Glasses, but the energy boost they can provide goes beyond just travelling.
Light therapy isn’t an exact science yet, but some swear by it as a means to relax or energize. AYO’s glasses try doing both by helping wearers feel a boost of energy, or wind down and sleep more soundly. The company focused its message on jet lag—a problem travellers face all the time.
When viewed beyond that particular context, there is something interesting at work here. It just takes some time and effort to figure out what the right mix actually is.
Despite what they are designed to do, the AYO Light Therapy Glasses are not an elaborate design. If you remember what Google Glass looked like once upon a time, then these would be on a similar track.
There are thicker temples—or arms, if you prefer—because that’s where the battery and some of the components are housed. The rest of the frame is fairly low-key, save for the blue LEDs that stay lit whenever you use the glasses. Plastic reflectors fall just below the front, slightly diffusing the blue LEDs that lie above facing straight down.
The glasses come in a two-piece case that slides together to enclose them. One arm has connectors at the end that line up with the charger inside the case. A touch-sensitive LED indicator on the outside shows battery level in four quadrants.
Their unusual design makes them light enough to wear anywhere, yet obvious enough to stand out in any crowd. AYO sees these as capable of boosting energy and beating jet lag through stimulation from the LEDs. They can also do the reverse by improving sleep quality.
Energy, Sleep, and Jet Lag
AYO made the glasses to have an impact, and the company claims business people and athletes actively use the product, without naming anyone. It has also forged partnerships with a few airlines, so has pushed product awareness and efficacy to spread the word.
The free AYO App for iOS and Android runs through the initial setup process, which isn’t any more intricate than simply pairing the glasses with a cell phone. The app itself is pretty clearly laid out, with energy, sleep, and jet lag split into sessions. Wearing the glasses during those sessions can go for as little as 20 minutes to as much as 40 minutes.
A scheduler lays out a plan on when to wear them over the course of a week. Usually, it’s the same time every day, like after whatever time you set your alarm to wake up, for example. For sleep, it would be the opposite, where a session prior to going to bed can help improve the quality of your slumber.
Scheduling to mitigate jet lag requires an on and off again sequence that starts before the flight, continues on during it, and then again after arrival or during stopovers. Each session is usually 30 minutes, especially for long haul flights to another continent.
The idea is to use the glasses at set times in either time zone to better acclimate to the change in time—not to mention helping you sleep at the right time after reaching your destination.
Do the AYO Light Therapy Glasses Work?
I didn’t have a long-haul flight to test these on, so I tried to simulate the effects by depriving myself of sleep and going to bed at odd times to see if the glasses had an immediate and cumulative effect.
AYO says the LEDs stimulate eye cells that then activate a part of the brain called Suprachiasmatic Nucleus to suppress the natural melatonin your body produces, leading to a boost of energy. When it’s time for bed, those melatonin levels should have already risen back, letting you fall asleep more soundly. The glasses help regulate your sleep and energy levels if jet lag or lifestyle changes have put them out of whack.
In my case, I can’t speak to the exact science of what was happening to me, but came away with a positive impression. The energy boosts worked. There were two occasions where I felt sleepy on a weekday afternoon while working, so I put the glasses on and chugged through those 30 minutes. By the time I took the glasses off, I didn’t feel fatigued anymore.
We have long noted experiences of a “second wind” pulling us back from fatigue and into an energy-infused activity. The AYO Light Therapy Glasses try and capture that by manipulating the body and brain to regulate ourselves. When I deprived myself of sleep using a fictitious flight from Toronto to Bangkok, I felt like I was on a different time zone after two days. It took me another full day (and a long slumber) to put myself back in order.
But the experiment did work. Jet lag doesn’t affect me quite as much as it does others. I’ve travelled a lot, so I guess I’m used to it, though I would want to wear glasses like these for long-haul flights.
It’s hard to say if what I felt was psychosomatic, meaning my brain tricked my body completely, without something tangible actually going on. AYO also doesn’t address other factors that can contribute to difficulties with energy, sleep, or jet lag, like a health condition, diet, or drug use, for example.
I tried wearing these while doing various tasks at home, be it chores, working, or watching content on a screen. The bridge’s position on the nose, coupled with the position of the frame and the reflection of blue light, makes it a challenge because they obstruct your vision at the top half.
Over time, however, I got used to just wearing them while moving around and doing things, though I relegated my time with them almost purely to the home. Walking around with these in public might attract the kind of attention you’d rather not have.
What did matter was that I felt a consistent effect each time, subtle as it may have been in some instances. This is very much a product that affects you (positively) mentally with a halo effect toward the body. It’s just hard to say whether it would help everyone the same way.
This is a unique product for a number of reasons. It’s not a toy to entertain you, nor a device to protect yourself. It’s a lifestyle gizmo that serves to help you battle the doldrums of a difficult work or school schedule, the winter blues, or tough sleeping habits. The jet lag part of the equation is intriguing because everyone travelling a far distance has suffered from that at some point in their lives.
The health benefits are, to me, truly case by case. The science may be optimistic, but AYO can’t know how well the glasses will impact each person wearing them. Compared to taking pills to achieve a similar result, however, these glasses are less invasive and aren’t hindered by medical complications. If you’ve tried everything else, it may be time to try putting these glasses on and see how you feel.
The AYO Light Therapy Glasses are available now.