Forget sleeping pills and an eye mask — chocolate could be the key to avoiding jet lag.
The sweet discovery was made by Australian experts during recent research into passenger recovery from international flights.
A team from the University of Sydney partnered with Qantas to create simulations of long-haul plane rides as the airline prepares to debut a direct Sydney to New York route in 2025, set to take a treacherous 20 hours.
On board the simulations, the researchers “monitored 23 volunteer customers who were fitted with wearable device technology … as they followed specially designed menu, lighting, sleep and movement sequences.”
The menu included “milk-based desserts to encourage sleep” — including chocolate.
The experts concluded that those who devoured the sweet treats as part of the tailored schedule experienced “better sleep quality in-flight, less severe jet lag and better cognitive performance in the two days after the flight.”
“The early findings have given us optimism that we can make a real difference to the health and well-being of international travelers,” Peter Cistulli, a professor of sleep medicine, said in a press release.
“We have a multi-disciplinary team of more than 10 researchers from medicine, science and engineering backgrounds working together on this project,” he added. “No airline has ever done this kind of research before.”
In addition to chocolate being served to the 23 volunteers, other modifications were also made in a bid to beat jet lag.
Qantas “adjusted the timing of meal services to align the passengers’ body clock and encouraged waking and sleeping by using specific menu items including fish and chicken paired with fast-acting carbohydrates.”
“Comfort foods,” such as soups and the aforementioned chocolate, were added to “promote the brain’s production of the amino acid tryptophan (‘Tryp’) to help passengers drift off more easily.”
Additionally, the tailored schedule also involved “cabin lighting schedules to facilitate adaption to the destination time zone,” as well as the integration of “simple stretch and movement activities.”
Experts have long theorized that certain foods can help a passenger stave off jet lag.
In 2021, a nutritionist claimed watermelon and cucumbers could be helpful due to their hydrating properties.
The expert also stated that sour cherries were a secret weapon in the war against travel fatigue, as they included melatonin which helps induce sleep.