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Turning Travelers Into Human Chargers May End Jet Lag for Good

Finnish startup Valkee wants to make sure you don’t sleep through your next vacation.

From the land of ice and snow comes a new device that harnesses the sun’s positive rays to combat the infamous symptoms of transcontinental jet lag. Finnish startup Valkee, known for its products targeting seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which affects over 9.5% percent of Finland’s population, recently launched a new device called the Human Charger that just might revolutionize travel. A bright light-emitting headset run via app, the Human Charger is able to “coordinate” environmental and situational factors between pre-and-post-travel routines, and, according to the Aerospace Medical Association, significantly improve a traveler’s jet lag.

Last year, Valkee created its own placebo-controlled study, and announced that participants using the Human Charger’s “trans cranial bright light (TBL) treatment” had a significantly quicker rate of bounce-back after flights. This included a reduction in maladies ranging from fatigue and inertia to mild forgetfulness. In 2012, Valkee and Finnair, Finland’s premier airline, partnered to offer business-class passengers on their Helsinki-Shanghai route the chance to participate in product testing. The device, called Valkee II at the time, proved so popular that the Human Charger has since been made available to Finnair’s flight crews. In addition, Singapore Airlines, KLM, and Iberia planes have also begun carrying the headsets for longer flights.

So far, responses to the Human Charger in the scientific community have been mixed. A recent study published in 2014 in Chronobiology International stated that the device “does not acutely affect human circadian physiology, alertness and psychomotor vigilance performance,” but admitted “subjective sleepiness decreased immediately over a short period only after ocular light exposure.” Jaari Karhu, MD, Ph.D., a medical adviser for Valkee, would like everyone to be patient, as the new study is possibly “the first ever randomized, placebo-controlled and double-blinded light therapy study on alleviation of jet lag symptoms.” Whether or not it really does do wonders, we know at least a few travelers this summer season who’d like to lessen their jet lag, if only for a few short, non-fatigued moments.

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