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Melatonin

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The subject of the use of melatonin supplements to reduce jet lag comes up now and then. I tried it, but it gave me night terrors. So I did a bunch of reading and research and found that a sleep mask does the trick for me. Here's some things I've found out about melatonin (also posted on airline board):

I tried melatonin, but it gave me night terrors. Based on a bunch of research, I started using a sleep mask on flights--works great for me and I'm not introducing unneeded and unregulated substances into my body.

Jet lag: It does appear that melatonin helps many people deal with jet lag. Taking 5 mg. of melatoinin at bedtime usually produces quicker and better quality sleep.

Are melatonin supplements safe?
Like all non-regulated supplements, makers don't have to conduct any studies of effectiveness or safety, and there are no controls over how they manufacture the supplement. ConsumerLab.com tested 18 melatonin supplements and found lead contamination in one, as well as dosages that didn't match what was adverised on the label. Makers can legally produce unregulated supplements in their kitchen sink or garage, and some do.

Researchers have concerns about supplemental melatonin affecting ovaries and testicles--it apparently has a side effect on a brain hormone related to reproduction.

You can increase melatonin production without taking pills. Melatonin production is increased when you are in a darkened room. No night lights. No glowing clock dials. No turning on the lights when you have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. A sleep mask is effective as well (my solution on long flights).

Bottom line--supplemental melatonin is apparently effective in helping the amount and quality of sleep for many people--thus reducing jet lag impacts. But, for some of us, there might be better ways to increase melatonin production than taking pills.

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