There is nothing worse than stepping off a plane upon landing at your destination during the daytime and struggling to keep your eyes open! Jet lag is considered one of the worst things about long-haul travel and can often disrupt the first few days of your trip.

Whether you are traveling for work or leisure, nobody wants to endure the effects of jet lag. Knowing how to potentially prevent and recover from jet lag is key to ensuring you stay healthy and well during your trip, so you can make the most of it!

It’s typically recommended to take melatonin on the day of eastward travel at your target bedtime in your destination’s time zone, which is particularly effective if you’ll be crossing five or more time zones.1

Read on to find out more about how melatonin helps jet lag, as well as the best way to take it. Firstly, a brief overview of melatonin!

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the brain that regulates your sleep-wake cycle, or your circadian rhythm.

Melatonin is secreted in response to the absence of light, which is why we begin to feel sleepy in the evenings, signaling to our body that it’s time for sleep. Upon waking, melatonin levels are suppressed in response to daylight, which results in us feeling alert and awake.

While our body naturally produces melatonin, supplementation is often recommended for those who have low melatonin production. Low melatonin production can have adverse effects on our sleep quality and can especially affect night shift workers and frequent travelers due to abnormal sleep patterns.2

How Does Melatonin Help Jet lag?

Jet lag, also known as 'time zone change syndrome', is when your normal sleep pattern is disrupted after a long flight. It occurs when people travel quickly through time zones, which disturbs our body’s circadian rhythm.

Symptoms of jet lag include:

    • Difficulty sleeping and waking
    • Tiredness and exhaustion
    • Difficulty staying awake during the day
    • Poor sleep quality
    • Lack of concentration
    • Less commonly, changes in appetite and gastrointestinal issues3

Traveling east typically results in much worse jet lag as opposed to traveling west. This is thought to be because the body clock has to be advanced, which is more difficult for us than delaying it. In short, lengthening a day is less problematic than shortening it.

Research has found that melatonin, taken close to the target bedtime at the destination, decreased jet lag from flights crossing five or more time zones.4

It has also been reported that insomnia related to jet lag reduced with melatonin supplementation taken in accordance with the destination’s time zone. Other symptoms of jet lag were also reduced as a result of melatonin supplementation.5

In summary, melatonin can help regulate the irregular sleeping patterns caused by traveling through several time zones, helping us fall asleep and achieve a better-quality sleep as a result.

Melatonin for Jet Lag: How Best to Take It

Taking melatonin on the day of eastward travel is usually recommended. The timing of the melatonin dose is also important, as if it’s taken at the wrong time, it may further hinder your sleep schedule and cause sleepiness.

It’s recommended to take between 0.5 and 5mg, which are proven effective doses. Taking more will not necessarily lead to better results, and it is possible to overdose, so it’s important to determine a dose that works for you to avoid any potential side effects.

An overdose of melatonin can cause negative side effects such as drowsiness, headaches, and nausea, so we recommend sticking to the recommended intake on your supplement.

Our Performance Lab Sleep containing natural melatonin from tart cherry is recommended to support consistent sleep patterns, great for preventing jet lag!

Key Take-Aways

  • Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle in response to daylight
  • Research shows that melatonin can help reduce jet lag by regulating our circadian rhythm
  • Taking melatonin on the day of eastward travel is usually recommended
  • Doses of 0.5 - 5mg are effective in reducing jet lag
  • An overdose of melatonin can cause negative side effects such as drowsiness, headaches, and nausea
  • We recommend Performance Lab Sleep

References

  1. Herxheimer, A. and Petrie, K.J., 2002. Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2).
  2. K. Patel. (2021) Melatonin. Examine.com.
  3. E. Suni. (2021) How to Get Over Jet Lag. Sleep Foundation.
  4. Herxheimer, A. and Petrie, K.J., 2002. Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2).
  5. K. Patel. (2021) Melatonin. Examine.com.