Finnair trials headset to combat jet lag

The disorientating condition that many travellers suffer from, jet lag, occurs when you are required to fly across different time zones.

(Credit: Valkee)

Not only does the condition mean that your body clock goes haywire, but time may have to be taken out of your trip in order to recover — sometimes accompanied by a plethora of herbal "remedies", sleeping pills or forcing your body to stay awake when its normal time zone would require rest.

However, Finnair is now trialling a kit that may help combat jet lag over a one-month period.

Passengers flying on the airline's business class service between Helsinki and Shanghai will be asked to test new, innovative headsets that claim to use LED technology in order to combat the condition. Those who are heading west towards Helsinki will be asked to use the Valkee kit approximately halfway through the flight, when it's morning in Europe — and those heading in the opposite direction will use it towards the end of the flight, in Shanghai's morning time zone.

The US$240 ear buds, developed by Finnish company Valkee, have been designed to blast bight light into the photosensitive regions of the brain through the ear canal, in order to "substitute the mood-elevating effects of the sun" — improving mood, and hopefully stimulating the brain in order to combat the disorientation of jet lag.

"Finnair is an innovative airline and we actively look for new ways to improve the well-being and comfort of our passengers," the airline said in a statement.

The kit has been used to try and treat conditions including seasonal affective disorder, and in previous clinical trials, users experienced increased energy and a reduced need for excessive sleep.

"We all have an internal sleep clock that controls things like hormones, mental function and attention," said Gary Trock, MD, co-director for Sleep Evaluation Services at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. "[...] and jet lag is caused by that clock being misaligned with our environment."

Passengers on Finnair flights will be offered the devices to wear for an hour within flights, and then asked to provide feedback on whether this device, through working as a mood elevator, will combat jet lag.

If the device proves successful, then it may be rolled out across more flights. However, it does have to be kept in mind that positive survey results could be due to a placebo effect rather than quantifiable benefit, so clinical trials in terms of jet lag could be the way to prove it is worth the expense before frequent travellers purchase the kit.

Via SmartPlanet

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