Melatonin for Jet Lag

Old Oct 26th, 2006, 06:13 AM
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Melatonin for Jet Lag

I remember someone on this board telling us how they overcome jet lag with Melatonin. I can't seem to find the reference - was it 3mg portions?
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 06:54 AM
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Buy the smallest dose you can find. In the US, that is usually 2 or 3 mg.

If you do a search on this board for melatonin, you'll find perhaps a dozen posts I've made over the years with explicit instructions on how to use melatonin and how to augment it with behavioral strrategies for managing jet lag.

Here are some exerpts: "I also use melatonin and have found it very helpful with jet leg. The instruction is to take it 30 minutes to an hour before you want to go to sleep in the new time zone. Some of the data indicates that it's only effective for a few days at a time, so taking it for the first three or four days in the new time zone makes sense. Also, you take it the same way when you return home, 30 minutes to an hour before you want to fall asleep at home.

By the way, part of the reason people debate whether it helps is that 30% of people are non-responders. If you are a responder, it should work the same for you in Asia as it did going to Europe.

When the research was initially done on melatonin, the researchers took the melatonin for one or more days before arriving in the country - that really messed up their sleep/wake cycles! Only take it once you are in your new time zone and ready to sleep."

"Since I'm "lecturing" (aren't you sorry you got me started?), here's some info on behavioral things you can do to help re-set your body clock (with or without melatonin).

1. Make sure you get exposure to morning sunlight. If you are staying some place where you can leave the drapes open, that will help you awaken naturally with the sun.

2. Get outside and walk or get some exercise in the sun. (In Bangkok, that will be rather brief, due to the heat, but do it anyway.)

3. After the first couple of days, try to go to bed about the same time each night and get up about the same time each morning. The first day or two you may need to go to bed earlier or sleep a bit later to catch up on sleep. Don't nap.

4. Use alcohol in moderation, as it interferes with the sleep cycle. (You may fall asleep more quickly, but you'll have more disturbed sleep, more night time awakenings and less deep sleep.)"


PS Do NOT take melatonin on the plane.
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 07:06 AM
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I take No Jet Lag (homeopathic) as instructed on the plane, then take 3 pm melatonin the first night at bedtime (Japanese time) and the next 3 nights. I am a melatonin responder. And I stay awake on the plane so when I get to the hotel in Tokyo I've been up 20 hrs and am ready to sleep at 10pm. And no alcohol or caffeine the day of the plane ride. This works great for me. I do the same thing on the return, No Jet Lag on plane and 3 mg melatonin first 4 nights. I have had no jet leg w/that method.
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 02:25 PM
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I have 1 mg pills of melatonin and they work just fine. For the first time in my life, I came home from Asia last month and my jet lag was gone in less than a week where before it always took about three weeks before I felt normal.
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 08:17 PM
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I took melatonin Source Natural 5 mg sublingual on a flight from JFK to Bangkok.

Took on the plane early in the AM. Have flown coach and business class. Slept both times (but better in b-class). Both times arrived at 10pm Thai time, took another, slept 8 hrs and spent the next day 10 hours touring the city walking.

I swear by it.
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 09:13 PM
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Kathie, what's wrong with taking Melatonin on the flight? I've done it many times and find it a better alternative to over the counter sleep aids like Ambien. Last time I visited the USA, I took Melatonin the first 2 nights and was completely over my jet lag.
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 05:06 AM
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Where do you get Ambien over the counter? It's precription here in the States and I hate asking my doctor for it because she always makes me feel like a drug addict.
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 08:08 AM
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Bisbee, you are right, Ambien is a bad idea. The frequency of people having amnestic episodes is much higher than reported by the pharmaceutical companies. A colleague of mine took it on a plane soon after it was released and slept all the way to Europe. Awoke feeling great, got off the plane in Paris and left eveything he brought on the plane! His was a relatively minor problem compared with a number of incidents of very bizarre behavior by passengers who have taken Ambien, then got up and did strange things, some of which were interpreted by staff as being threatening. The person taking the Ambien typically has no memory for what they did oncve they truly awake. There have been times when pilots have had to do an unscheduled landing to take someone off the plane. (Laurieco, it's available OTC in Thailand)

But the problem with taking melatonin on the plane is that it confuses your body about the change in day/night cycles. As I mentioned, jet lag is more than just a loss of sleep problem. When you change time zones dramatically, you want to help your body move from one time zone to another as smoothly and effeiciently as possible. Taking it on the plane gives the signal that you are in a new time zone, then you take it again in the new time zone and you have confused your body about the time change. Some of the newer data on melatonin shows it is most effective for the first few doses and effectiveness is reduced after that. So you've "wasted" an effective dose giving your body a false signal about the new time zone. You can also enhance the effectiveness of melatonin by combining it with behavioral strategies as mentioned above. If you have conflicting biological clues (the presence/absence of the melatonin) and behavioral clues (especially daylight exposure) the melatonin won't reset you body clock.

Also, you want the smallest possible dose of melatonin, so it doesn't "tire" your receptors as quickly. 5 mg. is way too much. In the US, the usual doses availble are in the 2-3 mg range. If you can find 1 mg you are better off, and have a higher likelihood of it being effective for more nights in a row.

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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 09:53 AM
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is it safe to buy prescription drugs like ambien over the counter in bangkok? who knows, maybe it was made in the back room.

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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 12:55 PM
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Ken you are correct that there are problems with counterfit drugs in Thailand (and more so in Cambodia, VN, Laos). I don't have any data at my fingertips on the general incidence of counterfit drugs in Thailand. If I wanted to buy pharmaceuticals in Thailand, I'd probably opt for a busy chain like Boots or Watsons.
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 02:22 PM
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I would advise you to try the Melatonin at home before you go to see what it does to you. I find that it has the opposite effect that it's supposed to have. I become very jittery, have a rapid heartbeat, and just generally feel terrible.
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 03:47 PM
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Piperpat, fascinating... In all of the research we did we never came across anyone who had a paradoxical effect with melatonin. Was the melatonin you were taking simply melatonin, or was it a melatonin-herbal mix (often with valenarian root or other herbs)? I've seen a number of people who have had paradoxical reactions to herbal mixes.
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 09:11 PM
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Interesting thoughts, Kathie. I find that if I take a 3mg melatonin on the plane, then another when I arrive, my sleep pattern gets on track quite quickly. Everybody is different, but this is what works best for me.

Regarding Ambien over the counter, I get Stilnox (French equivalent) here in HCMC that way.

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Old Oct 28th, 2006, 03:14 PM
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The Melatonin I took had no herbs. I just had a bad reaction to it. I have a friend who also can not take it.
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Old Oct 28th, 2006, 05:56 PM
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Piperpat, thanks for answering my rather nosy inquiry. I'll have to put that in my notes about melatonin.

Bisbee, you might be interested to know that the original research on melatonin and jetlag was done on pilots and flight attendants. Thus the research included many measures of adjustment to time zone, not just sleep. In particular, they were interested in the ability to perform complex cognitive tasks and reaction-time measures.

If it works for you to take it on the plane, great. You are so right about individual differences.
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Old Oct 28th, 2006, 06:30 PM
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Kathie,

Do you have any particular websites bookmarked with the info on melatonin?

Re Ambien, I took it on a trip from NY to Chile and was retching the entire way (and didn't sleep either!).
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Old Oct 28th, 2006, 07:24 PM
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http://alford.fastmail.us/melatonin.html

When I first read about melatonin and jet lag many years ago, I saw a chart such as that at the above link that explained exactly how to do it. I probably still have a copy of the article somewhere - will try to find it. The main idea is to change the circadian rhythm of your body with very small doses of melatonin.

Usually what I do now going to Europe from NY is to take an Ambien on the plane then one for the first two nights.

When I went to Japan I used the NoJetLag and took Ambien for two or three nights.

I think everyone reacts differently to these things.
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Old Oct 28th, 2006, 08:06 PM
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peachy, sorry, I don't have websites on melatonin bookmarked. When we did the trials of melatonin, the journal references we used were not yet online.

Mara, the schedule shown by that person looks like it was taken from the planned schedule of the trials by Italian physicians who tried it on a trip to/from Mexico. What they found was that the schedule did NOT work. By taking melatonin when you awake, you are working against your body, as taking melationin mimics the release of melatonin in your body when it is dark and you want to fall asleep.
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Old Oct 29th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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Kathie -
I found the article on which that chart is based. It is from a column by Jane Brody in the NY Times dated April 30, 1997. Her article as well as a previous one is based on the research of a Dr. Alfred Lewy from a university in Oregon.

I hope you don't think I am arguing with you - I'm not....just trying to be helpful...possibly that info is out of date by now....
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Old Oct 29th, 2006, 08:33 AM
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Oh, Mara, I don't feel like you are arguing with me, I think we're both trying to understand the previous research and what it means.

I'll have to take the time to look up his original research (probably won't be before I leave for Asia). I do know his name (I'm in Seattle). It is old data. From the schedule it looks like his approach was similar to that of the Italian doctors I referenced above. For a time there was a theory (which came out of the old data on shift work, measuring body temp as a measure of circadian rhythm, indicating that you could only change one hour a day). What later research discovered was that the schedule of taking melatonin other than hs (hour of sleep) and exposure to bright daylight other than in the morning was actually slowing down the adjustment to the new time zone. Taking melatonin before you leave your home time zone also causes drowsiness and decreased cognitive functions (slower reaction times, decreased attention and concentration, decreased complex problems solving, etc)

If you know a bit about how our own natural melatonin works and what kinds of things alter the release of melatonin, the newer dtat (and comcomitant schedule of how to take melatonin makes a lot of sense). The early researchers on this were coming from the point of view of the previous behavioral and sleep research, without data on the biochemical shifts.
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