Alex Brylov / Shutterstock.com

LED lights might be the artificial key to preserving our bodily rhythms.

For the most part, cures for jet lag are either uncertain or ineffective. Travelers can resort to chugging cups of coffee or imbibing some sort of weird nutritional drink, but more often than not we’re saddled with the exhausting aftermath of a long day’s travel. But what if there was a way to prevent jet lag before its unfortunate onset?

A new plane from Airbus, a global design and manufacturing firm, claims to do just that. The Airbus A350 is installed with LED lights and an air control system that help to mitigate the effects of jet lag.

If it all sounds too good to be true, there’s plenty of science to back it up. On the most basic level, jet lag disrupts our circadian rhythms, or bodily clocks, as we enter a different time zone. Figuring out a way to stabilize our clocks could effectively reduce the chance of feeling groggy after a flight.

With this science in mind, the LED lights on the Airbus A350 produce 16.7 million shades of color that simulate different times of day. The ideal amount of light exposure depends on what time you take off and the direction in which you’re flying. In general, traveling east means that you should speed up your bodily clock by exposing yourself to light early on in the flight. But if you’re traveling west, you’ll need to delay your internal clock by basking in light throughout dusk and early evening.

No matter the destination, the main purpose of the LED lights is to ease passengers into a new time zone. (Since humans haven’t been switching time zones for very long, we aren’t yet able to adapt quickly.) Of course, passengers will still have to acclimate to a new time zone when they land, but it’s easier to do so once they’re exposed to natural light.

Circadian rhythms also influence our natural body temperatures, which can take even longer than sleep patterns to adjust to a new time zone. To help with this, the plane’s air control system renews the air every two minutes and maintains a consistent temperature throughout the cabin.

Right now, you can hop on an Airbus A350 by purchasing specific luxury flights hosted by five airlines—Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Finnair, Singapore Airlines, and TAM Airlines in Brazil. Additional airlines have placed orders as well, though the flights are not yet available. By the end of February, Airbus had already received a total of 777 orders for Airbus A350s.

The concept has also received favorable reviews from passengers. Earlier this month, a writer for Condé Nast Traveler described her experience trying out the Airbus A350 on Singapore Airlines:

I was on its first flight this week, a journey of 12 hours from the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France to Singapore and can report that I functioned like a normal human being after arrival, free from that general yucky feeling you get after being on an airplane for half a day—and I'd do it again tomorrow.

At least jet lag won’t stand in her way.

Top image: Alex Brylov / Shutterstock.com

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: An elderly resident of a village in Japan's Gunma Prefecture.
    Life

    In Japan’s Vanishing Rural Towns, Newcomers Are Wanted

    Facing declining birthrates and rural depopulation, hundreds of “marginal villages” could vanish in a few decades. But some small towns are fighting back.

  2. Equity

    Bernie Sanders and AOC Unveil a Green New Deal for Public Housing

    The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act would commit up to $180 billion over a decade to upgrading 1.2 million federally owned homes.

  3. Life

    Tailored Place-Based Policies Are Key to Reducing Regional Inequality

    Economist Timothy Bartik details the need for place-based policy to combat regional inequality and help distressed places—strategies outlined in his new book.

  4. Design

    How Advertising Conquered Urban Space

    In cities around the world, advertising is everywhere. We may try to shut it out, but it reflects who we are (or want to be) and connects us to the urban past.

  5. a photo illustration of a map from "Treasure Island"
    Maps

    The Treasure Map That Led Me to the Bottom of the Sea

    It wasn’t always easy being a black woman in my early days as an oceanographer. But a fictional pirate and a pioneering ocean explorer helped chart my course.

×