Chili and Chocolate May Help Travelers Avoid Jet Lag

Australian airline Qantas found that adjustments to environment and diet could help
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2023 3:40 PM CDT
Chili and Chocolate May Help Travelers Avoid Jet Lag
   (Getty Images / Space Cat)

Good news for anyone who has ever confronted the unique exhaustion that comes with enduring long plane rides across multiple time zones. A new study suggests that stimulating food like chilis or relaxing foods such as chocolate—and carbs in general—can aid in recovering quickly from jet lag. Business Insider reports on the study conducted by Australian airline Qantas and the University of Sydney on a series of flights from New York to Sydney. Researchers monitored 23 volunteers on the long-haul journey, measuring via a wearable device how the passengers responded to special lighting, a unique menu, and variations in how they moved and slept along the way. Volunteers also kept logs of their activities in the week prior to getting on the flight.

According to Travel & Leisure, the menus in particular made a difference in how travelers felt after their flights. They were offered meals featuring chicken and fish along with "fast-acting" carbs. Additionally, passengers got to indulge in so-called "comfort foods" such as soups and desserts. The meals were aimed at tweaking tryptophan levels in the subjects' systems, as the amino acid, famously present in turkey, helps you fall asleep more easily. As a result, passengers reported not only better sleep while on the plane but improved cognition for up to 48 hours following landing.

"The early results are promising," says university sleep researcher Peter Cistulli. Jet lag is already a well-studied phenomenon, and for good reason. Research has indicated it can have long-term consequences including—but not limited to—higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, melanomas, breast cancer, and even "cognitive decline," as airline staffers who work long flights will sometimes show decreased scores in memory and cognitive tests. (More jet lag stories.)

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