February 1, 2007 The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be the first of a new generation of commercial aircraft provided with a number of new technologies to increase comfort and reduce jet-lag. Human-factors engineers have designed LED lighting that can fade slowly to help passengers set their sleep cycles, and better filtration technology for cleaner air. Recreating conditions closer to those at sea level, cabin pressure will be higher and the air will have higher humidity.
Taking off on a long flight? Then you probably try things to fight jet lag. But preventing the effects of jet lag may soon be a matter of simply the plane you take off in. This new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is designed to make you feel more refreshed when you reach your destination.
Plenty of room and a smooth ride are key to a passenger's comfort, but with help from human factors engineers, passengers are surrounded by technologies to help them fight jet lag, like lighting to mimic sunrise and sunset. A new filtration system means cleaner air. The air will have higher humidity and lower cabin pressure, which helps passengers feel less tired after a long flight.
"The architecture is very, very open in this airplane, and that's important in making people feel comfortable and rested when they land," Boeing Engineer Kenneth Price tells DBIS. "Because LED lights can do a very slow fade down into the nighttime environment and a very slow fade back to the daytime environment, passengers can fall asleep much more naturally and wake up much more naturally, which helps set their sleep cycles."
...And help make an effortless transition to their destination.
The first test flight for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is set for August 2007. It should be ready for commercial use in mid-2008. Northwest, Continental and other airlines have already ordered the planes.
BACKGROUND: Boeing is launching a new plane called the 787 Dreamliner with features specifically designed to help combat the causes of jet lag, based on a battery of experiments on several hundred people. The new Boeing 787 holds up to 250 passengers and uses 20 percent less fuel than other aircraft of similar size. It will be available for commercial flights in mid-2008.
WHAT CAUSES JET LAG? Many factors contribute to jet lag, including lighting, pressure, humidity, and air quality. But the primary cause is rapid traveling across numerous time zones, which results in the body's internal clock becoming out of sync with the local destination time. It takes about one day for each time zone crossed for the body's circadian rhythms to adapt to the new time zone. Symptoms of jetlag include dehydration and loss of appetite; headaches; fatigue; nausea or upset stomach; insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns; and disorientation or grogginess.
ABOUT THE DESIGN: Boeing's innovative new design, which incorporates wider seats and aisles, a wider cabin, larger lavatories, and windows that are 65 percent larger than those in conventional airplanes. Those windows are also outfitted with electro-chromic window shades to passengers can dim them while still being able to see outside. Light-emitting diodes simulate both the brightness and color of the aircraft's ceiling to give a sense of daylight when needed, or simulate a lovely nighttime sky. The new jets will also feature an innovative new air purification method called gaseous filtration to reduce airborne contaminants that Boeing's studies have found cause many of the symptoms associated with low humidity. Keeping the plane at an onboard pressure of 6,000 feet, instead of 8,000 feet, gives passengers 10 percent more oxygen so they are less tired after the flight.
THE ANTI-JET-LAG DIET: the Anti-Jet Lag Diet, apparently practiced by athletes, among others, to reduce the effects of crossing time zones over and over and over again. The most notable strategy is alternating days of feast and famine from a few days before, to a few days after, your planned trip across time zones. On feast days, eat three full meals, with breakfast and lunch being particularly high in protein. This helps the body produce the chemicals it would normally produce when it's time to wake up. Feast-day dinners, in contrast, should be rich in carbohydrates to help the body produce those chemicals it would normally produce around bedtime. Fast days should consist of three small meals low in both carbs and calories: salads, soups, half-slices of bread.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the video portion of this report.
Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.