Home > Health Library > Jet Lag and Melatonin
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
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.
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:
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
Vitamins and herbal remedies that can be bought
without a prescription can also be tried to help reduce jet lag.
Other Works Consulted
Reichert RG (2013). Melatonin. In JE Pizzorno, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 857–867. St. Louis: Mosby.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerLisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Current as ofApril 14, 2016
Current as of:
April 14, 2016
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
I Want To...
Join Our Social Network