WellSpan Home

Jet Lag and Melatonin

Topic Overview

Jet lag is caused by flying in an airplane and crossing one or more time zones, which can disrupt the body's sleep and wake cycle (circadian rhythms). Jet travel across time zones may make it difficult for you to fall asleep, stay asleep, or stay awake during the day.

The effects of jet lag usually are greater if you are going from west to east than from east to west.

The symptoms of jet lag may take one to several days to go away.

  • When you fly east, the number of days it takes to recover from jet lag will be about two-thirds the number of time zones you cross. For example, if you cross six time zones, it will take you about 4 days to get back to normal.
  • When you fly west, the number of days to recover equals about half the number of time zones. So if you cross six time zones, it will take you 3 days to recover.

Melatonin is a hormone the body makes that regulates the cycle of sleeping and waking. Taking melatonin may help "reset" your sleep and wake cycle.

You can try taking melatonin to reduce the symptoms of jet lag. Suggestions about times and dosages vary among researchers who have studied melatonin. Recommendations include:

  • Taking melatonin after dark the day you travel and after dark for a few days after arriving at your destination.
  • Taking melatonin in the evening a few days before you fly if flying eastward.

The long-term side effects of melatonin have not been well studied. If you have epilepsy or are taking warfarin (such as Coumadin), talk to your doctor before using melatonin.

There are other things you can do to decrease the effects of jet lag. Be rested before your flight, and try to walk around during the flight so that you are not confined to cramped spaces for long periods of time. Drink lots of water, because the air in jets tends to be dry. Vitamins and herbal remedies that can be bought without a prescription can also be tried to help reduce jet lag.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Herxheimer A (2014). Jet lag. BMJ Clinical Evidence. http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/x/systematic-review/2303/overview.html. Accessed April 14, 2016.
  • Reichert RG (2013). Melatonin. In JE Pizzorno, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 857-867. St. Louis: Mosby.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerMark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine

Current as ofMay 3, 2017


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×