On an average, for each time zone a person crosses, he or she takes one day to adjust to the new change in environment. This is the body’s natural process of adjusting its disturbed mechanisms, however, the supplement hormone melatonin is believed to be effective in decreasing or soothing the symptoms of jet lag. It is readily available over the counter and can be taken half an hour before going to the bed on the travelling day for up to four days after arrival. The recommended one-time dose of melatonin is about three milligrams. But, the amount of dose depends on a person’s condition and can vary from ½ milligram to five milligrams.
No extensive studies have been undertaken on the long-term safety of melatonin but a few have suggested that it is an effective jet lag remedy. The potential short-term effects of this hormone supplement include:
• sleepiness throughout daytime
• loss of appetite followed by nausea
• dizziness and disorientation.
Some studies have suggested that patients of epilepsy or those who take Coumadin (blood thinner warfarin) shouldn’t use melatonin supplements as it is considered to be a nutritional supplement and thus is not extensively regulated. Talking to your doctor before adhering to melatonin supplement for treating jet lag is necessary to avoid taking its inadequate amount.
Doctors also prescribe sleep inducing medications such as zolpidem (Ambien) or benzodiazepines to treat jet lag. These medications are prescribed to those who find it hard falling asleep after arriving in a new time zone.
Symptoms of jet lag naturally subside within two weeks after arrival in a new time zone, however, older people may have more difficulty adjusting to new light-dark cycles and may take a little more time to recover compared with younger people. People who are treated with hormone melatonin supplements or sleep inducing medications experience relief within a few days of treatment.
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