Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff


As a jet lag remedy and sleep aid, melatonin has been widely studied, and it's now a commonly accepted part of effective jet lag treatment. The latest research seems to show that melatonin aids sleep during times when you wouldn't normally be resting, making it of particular benefit for people with jet lag.

Your body treats melatonin as a darkness signal, and generally has the opposite effect of bright light. The time at which you take melatonin is important. If you're trying to reset your body clock to an earlier time, such as after flying east, you should take melatonin in the evening. If you're trying to reset your body clock to a later time, such as after flying west, melatonin should be taken in the morning.

Doses as small as 0.5 milligram seem just as effective as doses of 5 milligrams or higher, although higher doses have been shown by some studies to be more sleep promoting. If you use melatonin, take it 30 minutes before you plan to sleep or ask your doctor about the proper timing.

Avoid alcohol when taking melatonin. Side effects are uncommon but may include dizziness, headache and loss of appetite, and possibly nausea and disorientation.

Investigate other remedies

Most frequent fliers have a favorite jet lag cure or remedy to help them sleep. Some people may use aromatherapy, herbal supplements or other forms of complementary and alternative medicine.

Some people use diets that alternate days of feasting and fasting and high-protein and low-protein meals. Though no anti-jet-lag diets have been proved to treat jet lag, some people believe they work. If the diets themselves seem too complicated, you can simply eat more high-protein foods to stay alert and more carbohydrates when you want to sleep.

Most alternative jet lag therapies or sleep remedies aren't harmful. However, check with your doctor before trying remedies such as herbal supplements, as some may interact with other medications or cause side effects.

Jan. 05, 2013