Jet Lag - Does Melatonin Really Help?

Posted by Sudha Bhat on Fri, Oct 12, 2012  
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As most of us know, melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland and it helps control our sleep and wake cycles. A small amount of melatonin is found in foods such as meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables. You can also buy it as a supplement.


Your body has its own internal clock that controls your natural cycle of sleeping and waking hours. In part, your body clock controls how much melatonin your body makes. Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours.


Though, going on a vacation or a business trip cross-country can be a fun experience, having to cope with the associated jet lag can be quite unpleasant! Jet lag, also known as time zone change syndrome can occur when people travel rapidly from east to west, or west to east on a jet plane. People with jet lag have their sleep-wake patterns disturbed. They may feel drowsy, tired, irritable, lethargic and slightly disoriented. The more time zones that are crossed rapidly, the more severe jet lag symptoms are likely to be. These disturbances are not pathological and diminish within days.


Taking melatonin to reduce jet lag is a well-tested and safe use of the hormone. The timing of taking melatonin is very important since the goal is to be asleep during the normal night time hours of your destination, Because of melatonin’s role in circadian rhythms, doctors recommend that their patients take three to five milligrams of melatonin before they get on a plane. The melatonin shouldn't be taken at their usual bedtime, but at the time they’d be going to bed at their destination. After they've arrived, doctors then recommend that the patient take melatonin a few hours before going to bed for a few days.


There are other things you can do to decrease the effects of jet lag. Be rested before your flight, and try to walk around during the flight so that you are not confined to cramped spaces for long periods of time. Drink lots of water, because the air in jets tends to be dry. They should also try not to give in to sleepiness that comes outside of their usual schedule.


So, the next time you travel across the time zones don’t forget to adjust your watch and yes more importantly don’t forget to ask your doctor about melatonin for some happy and restful travel!!!



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