If you frequently fly for business or pleasure you will be familiar with jet lag. Jet lag affects everybody differently but it produces symptoms like fatigue, disorientation, sleeplessness and stomach problems. If you fly a lot you’re sure to wish there was a cure for jet lag. Have you ever tried the supplement melatonin? Melatonin has recently been touted as a jet lag remedy, but does it work?
Melatonin is produced naturally as a hormone by the pineal gland and it is essential for your body’s sleeping and waking patterns. Melatonin helps regulate what is called your circadian rhythm – when you wake up and when you go to sleep. Flying across time zones disrupts your circadian rhythms, causing irregularities in the times you feel sleepy and the times you are wide awake. In effect, the amount of daylight you are exposed to affects your internal clock.
People use melatonin as a counter against jet lag because the hormone naturally brings on sleep when it is created by the body. However, can melatonin work when it is taken as a supplement? Some travelers take a dose of the hormone when they travel in order to try to trick their circadian rhythms into thinking it is time to go to sleep.
Travelers heading east may be able to take melatonin effectively because you are visiting a time zone where you need to go to bed earlier than normal. But you need to remember that jet lag is not only caused by disruption to circadian rhythms, it is also affected by factors such as dehydration, lack of exercise, and poor diet. Also, the exact dose of melatonin is important and you should follow directions to make sure you don’t end up overly drowsy when you should be awake.