Melatonin and Jet Lag

Newsletter - Dec15 - JetlagThe holidays are a time of the year when many people fly. Whether seeing family or taking a much needed rest on a warm beach, there is nothing like a long journey over multiple time zones to sap the energy from our bodies, making it more difficult to have a restful time away.  This effect is commonly know as ‘jet lag’, but what exactly is it and is there anything that can be done to help us reset our ‘internal’ clocks quicker?
Jet lag commonly affects air travelers who cross several time zones. It results from the body´s internal rhythms being out of step with the day-night cycle at the destination. Melatonin is a pineal hormone that plays a central part in regulating bodily rhythms and has been used as a drug to realign them with the outside world.

What is Jet Lag?

Jet lag commonly affects air travelers who cross several time zones. It results from the body´s internal rhythms being out of step with the day-night cycle at the destination. Melatonin is a pineal hormone that plays a central part in regulating bodily rhythms and has been used as a drug to realign them with the outside world.

Does Melatonin prevent Jet Lag?

In clinical trials, it was found that melatonin, taken close to the target bedtime at the destination (10 p.m. to midnight), decreased jet lag resulting from flights crossing five or more time zones. Daily doses of melatonin between 0.5 and 5 mg are similarly effective, except that people fall asleep faster and sleep better after 5 mg than after 0.5 mg. Doses of more than 5 mg appear to be no more effective. The benefit is likely to be greater if more time zones are crossed and less for westward flights.

Is Melatonin safe?

Melatonin appears remarkably effective in preventing or reducing jet lag, and occasional short-term use appears to be safe. It can be safely recommended to adult travelers flying across five or more time zones, particularly in an easterly direction, and especially if they had jet lag on previous journeys. Travelers crossing two to four time zones also can use it if need be.

Are there any people who should not use Melatonin?

Most adults can safely take melatonin in the short term but people suffering from epilepsy or taking warfarin tablets should discuss this with their doctor first.

Footnote:

The pharmacology and toxicology of melatonin needs further study, and routine pharmaceutical quality control of melatonin products must be established. It is important to ensure that if you take Melatonin, that you buy it through a reputable pharmacy.