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Airline tests LED travel kits to combat jetlag

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Finnair is currently trialing a headset that may help passengers combat jetlag.

The disorientating condition which many travelers suffer from, jetlag, occurs when you are required to fly across different time zones.

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 are now trialing a kit which may help combat jetlag 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 half way 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 timezone.

The $240 earbuds, 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 jetlag.

"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, M.D., 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 jetlag.

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 jetlag could be the way to prove it is worth the expense before frequent travelers purchase the kit.

Image credit: Valkee

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure