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 beneficial 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 a later time, such as after flying east, you should take melatonin at local bedtime nightly until you have become adapted to local time. If you're trying to reset your body clock to an earlier 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, daytime sleepiness, loss of appetite, and possibly nausea and disorientation.

Additional possible remedies

Although diet hasn't been proven to help jet lag, some people use diets that alternate days of feasting and fasting and high-protein and low-protein meals. If such a diet seems too complicated, you can try eating more high-protein foods to stay alert and more carbohydrates when you want to sleep.

Some people use exercise to try to ease the effects of jet lag.

If you want to try an alternative therapy, such as an herbal supplement, be sure to check with your doctor first because some therapies may interact with other medications or cause side effects.

April 20, 2016