Melatonin and Sleep

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Date:
Wednesday, January 1, 2014

research is very limited, the use of melatonin for jet lag appears reasonable. Many published scientific studies conclude that melatonin can be effective for preventing or reducing jet lag, particularly for crossing five or more time zones and when traveling east. However, safe and appropriate use of melatonin needs further testing.

There is no best cure for jet lag. You can use the power of the sun (or other sources of bright light) to reset your body clock. As a general principle, light exposure in the morning will reset the body clock to an earlier time while light in the evening will reset it to a later time. No matter what you do, it will probably take a few days for your body clock to adjust to a new time zone.

For travel to the east, try adjusting your clock to an earlier sleep time so you get up as early as you can and get out in the morning sun. Before your clock is adjusted to the new time zone, getting to sleep in the evening can be difficult. Be sure to avoid alcohol and caffeine at least three to four hours before you go to bed. Save the (caffeine-filled) chocolate on your pillow for a daytime snack.

If you are traveling west, try to get at least an hour's worth of morning sunlight the first chance you can after you reach your destination. And before you travel, try waking and going to sleep an hour later for each time zone you'll cross. For example, for a trip from New York to California, try to shift your bed and wake an hour later for each of three days before you leave - instead of sleeping from 11 pm to 7 am, sleep from midnight to 8 am, then 1 am to 9 am, and on the third night, from 2 am to 10 am.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

Jet lag isn't the only disorder of circadian rhythms. People with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) are only able to fall asleep late into the night or early in the morning.

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