What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the brain that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the body’s internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm. Melatonin production is influenced by the amount of light and darkness we are exposed to.
Melatonin is often used as a supplement to help alleviate jet lag and adjust to new time zones.
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag, also known as desynchronosis or flight fatigue, is a temporary sleep disorder that can affect individuals who travel across multiple time zones. It can cause disruptions to physiological processes including sleep-wake cycles, hormone production, and metabolism.
Jet lag can lead to a range of symptoms, such as fatigue, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, irritability, digestive problems, and general malaise.
Cause of Jet Lag
Jet lag is primarily caused by rapid long-distance travel across multiple time zones, particularly when traveling in an eastward or westward direction. The body’s internal clock needs time to adjust to the new time zone, and this adjustment period is what leads to the symptoms of jet lag.
Exposure to cabin pressure, dry air, and reduced oxygen levels during air travel can also contribute to fatigue and dehydration, exacerbating the effects of jet lag.
Prevent & Manage Jet Lag
While jet lag cannot be entirely prevented, there are strategies to help minimize its effects:
- Gradually adjust sleep schedules a few days before traveling to align with the destination’s time zone
- Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the flight and avoid excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption, which can further disrupt sleep patterns
- Make efforts to expose oneself to natural light in the new time zone, as sunlight helps regulate the circadian rhythm
- Consider taking short naps to combat fatigue but avoid sleeping for long periods during the day, as it can interfere with nighttime sleep
- Use over-the-counter sleep aids or melatonin supplements, but consult a healthcare professional before taking any medication.
- Establish a routine in the new time zone, including regular meal times and exercise, to help the body adjust more quickly.
Jet lag is generally not considered a serious or life-threatening condition. It is a temporary and self-limiting sleep disorder that typically resolves on its own as the body adjusts to the new time zone. While jet lag can cause discomfort and disrupt daily routines, it is not a condition that leads to significant long-term health consequences.
If jet lag symptoms persist or significantly impact daily functioning, or if there are concerns about underlying health conditions, it is advisable to seek medical advice for further evaluation and guidance.
We have made every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the provided information, however, it is not feasible for us to update daily. Please book a virtual consultation with one of our Travel Medicine Professionals for current, personalized advice and answers to any questions you may have.
Is Melatonin Necessary?
When traveling across multiple time zones, taking melatonin supplements can help reset your body’s internal clock and promote sleep at the appropriate times. It is typically taken orally, usually in the form of tablets or capsules, about 30 minutes to an hour before the desired bedtime in the new time zone.
It’s important to note that melatonin is not a sedative, but rather a hormone that helps regulate sleep patterns. It can assist in adjusting sleep schedules but may not be effective for everyone. It’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements, including melatonin, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.
It’s worth noting that jet lag is a transient condition that typically resolves within a few days to a week as the body adjusts to the new time zone. By implementing strategies to minimize its effects, such as proper sleep hygiene, hydration, and gradually adapting to the new schedule, most individuals can effectively manage jet lag and resume their normal activities without significant consequences.
Available travel vaccinations and medications
We offer the following travel vaccinations and medications:
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