Doctor Says Melatonin Isn’t a Great Sleep Cure (but Could Still Help Travelers)
If you’ve ever crossed time zones, you know how much jet lag can cast a shadow over an epic trip. People have gone to great lengths to eradicate the most notorious side effect of a long haul flight.
One of the most popular remedies is the sleep hormone melatonin. Model Lindsay Ellingson keeps a bottle in her suitcase when she travels, and even some of the most raved-about custom jet lag cures often include instructions for when to take a tablet.
But a New York City-based clinical psychologist, Dr. Janet Kennedy, told Business Insider that melatonin isn’t a miracle sleep aid.
“People tend to rely on melatonin a lot because they feel like it’s a natural alternative to prescription sleep aids,” Kennedy said. “But just because it’s natural doesn’t mean that it’s safe or necessary or better than another option.”
Because it’s not FDA-regulated, it’s almost impossible for consumers to determine the potency of the melatonin. Kennedy also noted that because it’s not monitored by the government, very little is known about the manufacturing process, which is a safety issue.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it help adjust your sleep patterns while traveling.
“Melatonin can be very helpful in the short term,” said Kennedy, “[especially] for jet lag because melatonin is actually what you need to change when you are trying to acclimate to a new time zone.”
If you’d rather avoid taking hormone treatment altogether, there are still plenty of all-natural jet lag cures worth trying. We suggest gradually shifting your internal clock in advance of your trip, manipulating light exposure, and having a drink. After all, keeping hydrated is key.