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World first research shows ways to reduce jetlag ahead of Qantas Sunrise flights

World first research shows ways to reduce jetlag ahead of Qantas Sunrise flights

It is feasible to lessen the effects of jet lag by changing the inflight travel experience, according to research results published today by Australian airline Qantas and the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.

The well-being of passengers on long flights has been proven to be enhanced by different lighting and sleep schedules, mealtimes, and particular ingredients like chocolate and chilli. Unsurprisingly, exercise and movement are important.

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QANTAS’ NEW YORK TO SYDNEY NON-STOP RESEARCH FLIGHT SET FOR TAKE-OFF(Opens in a new browser tab)

The groundbreaking research was carried out on test flights for Qantas‘ Project Sunrise programme, which will launch direct flights from Sydney to New York and London in late 2025.

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During the 20-hour trip, researchers followed a precisely tailored meal, lighting, sleep, and mobility sequences while observing 23 volunteer passengers who were fitted with wearable gadget equipment.

Did you know? Why airplane windows are round..!(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Initial findings, as yet unpublished, indicate that, compared to customers on a traditional inflight sequence of eating and sleeping, those on the tailored schedule experienced:  

  • less severe jet lag (self-reported) 
  • better sleep quality inflight 
  • better cognitive performance in the two days after flight  

The in-flight experiments included incorporating easy stretch and movement exercises as well as customized cabin lighting patterns to promote acclimatization to the destination time zone.

They also changed the meal service schedule to match the body clock and stimulate waking and sleep by employing certain menu items such as fish and chicken mixed with fast-acting carbs, as well as comfort foods such as soups and milk-based sweets. The aim was to promote the brain’s production of the amino acid tryptophan (‘Tryp’) to help passengers drift off more easily.

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