Tiny screen jumps in front of you, the sound quality is terrible, constant interruptions. To watch a movie during the flight — not pleasant. However, constant “flyers” must have been in a situation or seen with my own eyes — how the most innocuous movies during the flight, turn into masterpieces of cinema. Even a frivolous Comedy like “the Simpsons” can bring tears to the passengers.
Physicist and broadcaster Brian Cox and musician ed Sheeran has admitted that becoming too emotional watching films on planes. A survey conducted by Gatwick airport in London showed that 15% of men and 6% of women said that are more likely to cry while watching movies on the plane than at home.
One of the major airlines even began to warn the passengers before viewing about the “excessive load on the emotional state”, which can be frustrating.
There are many theories about why flying can make passengers more vulnerable to tears — the absence of loved ones, the excitement before the trip, homesickness. But there is also evidence indicating that the cause of all this may be the flight itself.
Recent studies suggest that stay at a height of 10 kilometers above the earth, sealed in a metal tube, maybe a strange way to respond to our minds, to change the mood, feelings and even make you itch.
“In the past, been very little research on this topic, as for healthy people, this is not a big problem,” says Jochen Hinkelbein, President of the German society of aerospace medicine and assistant medical Director of emergency medicine at the University of Cologne. “But as air travel becomes cheaper and more popular, in the air begin to travel, and older, less healthy people. Hence the interest”.
Hinkelbein, is one of the few researchers who now study how the conditions that we experience in flight, can affect the human body and mind.
There is no doubt that the cockpit — a very curious place to visit man. A striking environment in which the air pressure in proportion to that on the mountain height of 2.4 kilometres. The humidity is lower than in the driest deserts of the world, and the air that is pumped into the cabin, chilled to 10 degrees Celsius, to divert excess heat generated by the bodies and electronics on Board.
Reduced air pressure in an air flight can reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood of passengers on 6-25%. In the hospital at this rate the doctors already prescribe supplemental oxygen. For healthy passengers it is safe, but older people may experience breathing problems, as well as those who have such problems already.
Was conducted, however, research has shown that relatively moderate hypoxia (lack of oxygen) can reduce our ability for clear thinking. On the level of oxygen corresponding to the altitude of 3.6 kilometers, healthy adults may notice significant changes in memory, ability to calculate and make decisions. So aviation administration insist that the pilots wore oxygen masks if the cabin pressure is equivalent to the height above 3.8 kilometres.
What is unusual is the fact that the pressure of the air at a height of 2.1 kilometres, as it turned out, increases reaction time — bad news for those who like to play computer games during the flight.
There have also been studies that have shown that there may be a small decline in cognitive abilities and judgment, when the oxygen level corresponding to a height of 2.4 kilometers — as in the cockpit. Most of us hardly notice the change.
“A healthy person is a pilot or a passenger — do not need to experience cognitive problems at this altitude,” says Hinkelbein. “If a person is not completely healthy, or someone sick with the flu, hypoxia could reduce oxygen saturation so that cognitive deficits will become evident.”
But, Hinkelbein also tells that moderate hypoxia that we experience during the flight may have other easily recognizable effects on our brain — for example, we get tired. Studies in hypobaric chambers, and reacclimatizing troops arriving in the mountain areas showed that brief exposure to altitude at least 3 km can strengthen the fatigue, but in some people it manifests itself at lower altitudes.
“Whenever I’m sitting in the airplane after takeoff, I feel tired and can easily fall asleep,” explains Hinkelbein. “Not that the lack of oxygen sent me into oblivion, but definitely contributes to hypoxia”.
If you manage to keep your eyes open long enough to see the lights in the cabin dim, you will encounter another effect of the lowered air pressure. Night vision can deteriorate by 5-10% at a height of 1.5 kilometers. This is because photoreceptor cells in the retina that is needed for night vision, really need oxygen and can barely get everything you need at high altitude, which will reduce their effectiveness.
The flight also introduces chaos into our senses. The combination of low air pressure and humidity can reduce the sensitivity of our taste buds for salty and sweet up to 30%. A study conducted by Lufthansa, have also shown that tomato juice tastes better in flight.
Dry air can also Rob us of the sense of smell, making food tasteless and bland. That is why many airlines are adding into food condiment, which should make it acceptable to absorb during the flight. Perhaps it is well that our sense of smell is reduced during the flight. Because the change in air pressure causes most to pass gas.
And if the prospect of breathing the bodily gases of your companions you do not mind, reducing the pressure also makes the passengers anxiety. A 2007 study showed that after three hours of stay at altitude, as in the cockpit, people begin to complain about the inconvenience.
Add to that low humidity, and become no wonder we find it difficult to sit still on long flights. The study of Austrian scientists have shown that far a flight can dry the skin by 37% and cause itching.
Low air pressure and humidity may also increase the effects of alcohol and the hangover the next day. But it’s flowers. Get ready for really bad news.
“With hypoxia may increase levels of anxiety,” explains Valerie Martindale, President of the Aerospace medical Association at king’s College London. Anxiety is not the only aspect of mood, which may vary during the flight. A number of studies have shown that stay at the altitude may exacerbate negative emotions, stress, to make people angrier, less energetic and prevent to cope with stress.
“We have shown that some aspects of mood can change when exposed to cabin pressure that is equivalent to the height of 2-2,5 km,” said Stephen Legge, Professor of ergonomics at Massey University in New Zealand investigating the effect of moderate hypoxia on humans. This could explain why some people can cry over a movie in the middle of the flight, however, most of the effects investigated in this study, should occur above the height where you normally fly passenger planes. Mild dehydration, says Legge, can also affect mood.
“We know very little about the impact of several moderate stress factors on the complex processes of thought and sentiment,” he adds. “But we know that General fatigue is exactly associated with long flights, so I’m inclined to assume that the combination of these effects leads to a “flight fatigue”.
There is also research showing that height can make people happier.
Stephen Groening, a Professor of film and media at the University of Washington, believes that this happiness can be expressed in tears. Boredom during the flight, and the relief that brings the film, combined with the privacy of a small screen and headphones, can bring tears of joy and not sorrow.
“Configuration of entertainment devices for flight creates the proximity effect, which can amplify emotional reactions,” says Groening. “Crying on the plane and can be of relief, not necessarily from sadness.”
Hinkelbein found another strange change in the human body, which can interfere with the usual functioning of our body. Even 30 minutes spent in flight on a commercial airliner, can change the balance of molecules associated with the immune system. That is, reduced air pressure can change the work of our immune system.
If the flight is really changing our immune system, it will not only make us more vulnerable to damage caused by infection, but also change the mood.
“People used to think that they have a cold or the flu while travelling due to climate change,” says Hinkelbein. “But the reason could be a change immune response in flight. It should be reviewed”.
If our immune system is really changing in flight, this will not only make us more vulnerable to infections, but also change the mood. It is believed that inflammation may be associated with depression.
“Inflammatory response after vaccination can lead to a drop in the mood for 48 hours,” says ed Bullmore, head of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, studying how the immune system affects mood. “It would be interesting if the 12-hour flight halfway around the world caused something like that.”