Effective Methods for Treating Jet Lag and the Role of Melatonin

Jet lag, a common consequence of crossing time zones during travel, can disrupt sleep patterns, mood, and overall well-being. For frequent travellers and globe trotters, managing jet lag is essential to ensure a smooth transition and maximize productivity. We will explore several effective methods for overcoming jet lag and highlight the benefits of melatonin as a natural remedy.

 

Adjust Sleep Schedule Before Travel:

To minimize the impact of jet lag, gradually adjust your sleep schedule a few days before your trip. If traveling east, try going to bed and waking up earlier; if traveling west, adjust your sleep schedule later. This helps your body adapt to the time zone changes in advance.

 

Stay Hydrated, Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine:

It is important to remain properly hydrated to prevent jet lag. Airplane cabins are controlled environments typically kept at only 10-20% humidity1, which can lead to quicker dehydration. Therefore, you should drink lots of water before (as long as 24 hours), during and after your flights, and avoid overconsumption of caffeinated or alcoholic drinks that can make dehydration worse and disrupt your sleep cycle.

 

Expose Yourself to Natural Light:

Upon arrival at your destination, seek natural light exposure during daylight hours. Sunlight helps regulate your body's internal clock, aiding in the adjustment to the new time zone. Spend time outdoors, take walks, or sit near windows to maximize exposure to natural light.

 

Nap Strategically:

Power naps of a few hours can increase alertness and offer momentary relief, but it is important to be careful with naps. Excessive napping or snoozing too late in the day may throw off your sleep schedule even more. Try limiting your naps to no more than 30 minutes and nap at least eight hours before your planned bedtime. Longer naps tend to interfere with your sleep-wake cycle and may affect your sleep time in the new time zone.

 

Melatonin Supplementation:

One of the conventional solutions to jet lag during travels to different time zone is by taking sleeping pills, but melatonin supplements can be a good alternative to prescription pills. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by our brain to regulate bodily rhythms and prime our bodies to sleep, therefore they are especially beneficial for individuals with irregular sleep schedules or jet lag. Contrary to traditional sleeping pills that force your body to fall asleep, melatonin tricks your brain into thinking that it’s sunset or close to bedtime2. Therefore, your body winds down when it usually wouldn’t, helping you move your sleep-wake cycle.  A study conducted by Herxheimer and Petri3 demonstrates the effectiveness of melatonin in overcoming jet lag among various trial participants, such as airline passengers, airline staff, and military personnel after crossing five or more time zones. While there are plenty of studies showing melatonin is an effective jet lag treatment, it is recommended to consult with healthcare professionals to determine the right melatonin supplementation dosage and timing for your individual travel requirements.

 

Conclusion:

To ensure a seamless transition and optimal performance, managing jet lag is essential for frequent travellers and globe trotters. You can lessen the effects of jet lag and aid your body's adjustment to new time zones by putting into practise strategies as mentioned above. When selecting melatonin supplements, look for reputable brands that offer high-quality products with the recommended dosage, and consult with healthcare professionals for the right dosage and time of intake. With these methods in place, you can enjoy a more restful slumber and make the most out of your traveling adventures. 

Reference:

  1. “Why Flying Makes You So Dehydrated” by The Center for Family Medicine 

https://centerforfamilymedicine.com/general-health/why-flying-makes-you-so-dehydrated/

  1. “What Does Melatonin Do? The Misunderstood Sleep Hormone”

https://www.risescience.com/blog/what-does-melatonin-do#do 

  1. “Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag” by Herxheimer and Petrie, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001520/full

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