This site has previously noted how experiments documenting the adverse effects of jet lag on mice may have implications for humans. Now MSNBC’s travel section reports on hotels’ efforts at combating jet lag to alleviate its negative effects on business travelers. Responding to an increase the number of sleepwalkers being reported by hotels some hotel chains are taking the initiative to try and mitigate jet-lag’s negative effects.
MSNBC reports that “Crowne Plaza Hotels has partnered with sleep experts to try to control room light in hotels. In fact, some research has shown that even the light from a laptop or BlackBerry is concentrated enough to signal the brain to stop secreting melatonin. Some even say that checking e-mail before sleep can be the electronic equivalent of drinking a double espresso before turning in.” For BlackBerry addicts – and almost every business traveler is one – that probably requires considerable will power. Hotels are trying to facilitate that weaning away process by a number of means. The Westin chain “has partnered with Philips and a group of sleep doctors to create a “concept room” aimed at aiding sleep deprivation and cutting jet-lag recovery time in half. This hotel-room laboratory is currently being tested at the Westin Chicago River North, and is the first such partnership between Philips and a hotel company”. Besides having high tech features such as a “Philips Activa Lamp that “provide(s) high-quality lighting and directly affect(s) the way people feel” the chain is seeking to provide “cutting-edge amenities such as a guided-meditation TV program (which) actually walks you through into a sleep experience”. Besides window shades that are custom blackout models and white-noise machines, the chain has also installed showers with high intensity lights that resets the body clock!
But, perhaps, more than any of the high tech gizmos, hotels can help combat traveler fatigue and jet lag by taking care of the basics which include a smooth check-in process (kiosk included), air quality (affected by a range of factors including temperature, relative humidity and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from carpets) and minimal noise. Noise, in particular, is an area that hotels ought to exceed expectations where US standards set decibel levels at a level higher than that for private bedrooms. Designing hotel rooms to qualify for noise levels associated with libraries could go a long way to assuaging the problems associated with jet-lag and other travel ills.