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Airline Says it Has Pretty Much Solved Jet Lag

Most long-haul fliers have personal tricks for how to avoid jet lag, but the Australian airline Qantas might have the solution on the best ways to reset your body’s clock while traveling.

View of an aeroplane wing from out of the window

The airline just released a years-long study on how to change inflight routines to reduce jet lag on its upcoming ultra-long-haul flights from New York and London nonstop into Sydney. (The flights, which launch in late 2025, will be up to 22 hours long, making jet lag and inflight comfort an important consideration.) Among the study’s findings? Adjusted lighting, tailored sleep and dining schedules, and meals with specific ingredients helped significantly improve passengers’ jet lag. Specifically, foods that encourage wakefulness or sleep.

Volunteers on the researchers' tailored in-flight schedule reported getting better quality of sleep on the flight, less severe jet lag on arrival, and having better cognitive performance in the two days after the flight.

A key part of the adjusted schedule was timing the in-flight meal service to align with the internal body clock and serving dishes that promoted the brain’s production of tryptophan, an amino acid linked to sleepiness. Quantas says these dishes included “fish and chicken paired with fast-acting carbohydrates, as well as comfort foods like soups and milk-based desserts.”

Other factors included custom cabin lighting schedules designed to help passengers adapt to the time zone in their destination, as well as stretches and movement activities. In fact, Qantas is designing its Airbus A350 planes that will operate its ultra-long-haul routes to have a designated space where economy passengers can do their stretching and other exercises guided by video screens.

“The early findings have given us optimism that we can make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of international travelers, thanks to this partnership with Qantas,” said Peter Cistulli, professor of sleep medicine at the University of Sydney, which helped the airline with the study.


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