Airlines Are Hiring Scientists to Find a Cure for Jet Lag

They want more people to take longer flights. 


Jet lag is a common ailment for people taking long flights, and one airline hopes to find the cure using a team of scientists.

Syndey-based Qantas Airways announced it will be part of an experiment to find out how to alleviate jet lag on long-range flights. Beginning next week, 20 people will be monitored to see if cabin light, snacks, and temperature can stop the disruption of the circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock.

“The main cue for resetting that clock is light,” Steve Simpson, academic director of the Charles Perkins Centre and the researcher for this experiment, told Bloomberg in February. “The way you feel, the way you function — mentally through to bowel movements — is all ultimately controlled by your body-clock.”

That clock, however, can only be reset by approximately 90 minutes a day, so timing will have to be important. The wrong snack or a mistimed light could cause the jet lag.

On this experimental flight, Phil Capps, Qantas’ head of product planning and development, said lights all over the cabin will be phased in over 15 minutes to soften the blow of jet lag. Blue light will trigger wakefulness while orange tones will be used to encourage sleep.

Qantas has big money riding on this experiment. The airline will soon begin non-stop flights from Australia to Europe and already invested about $15 billion in new aircrafts for these long-range flights. More direct flights will lead to more high-paying customers for those flights.

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