Traveling from one location to another is tiring enough, but if you're flying over great distances, jet lag can be a major bother. Rather than stepping off of the plane excited from the trip, jet lag leaves you feeling exhausted. The good news is there are ways you can reverse the effects of jet lag, and one of those remedies is using your body's natural sleep aid medication -- melatonin. Here's how you can use melatonin to fight jet lag.
Understand jet lag. Your body usually has a hard time adjusting when you fly across time zones, and some time zones can be worse than others. It is proven that crossing from the west (Pacific Standard Time - PST) to the east (Eastern Standard Time - EST) is harder on your body. This is because the day ends sooner than you're used to (by a whole 3 hours). Your body can't make the switch that fast, so it still wants to produce higher levels of melatonin. That's what will keep you awake yet exhausted, and usually afflicted with a headache.
To fly from the east to the west isn't so bad. You just stay up a few hours later. It's the return flight that will inevitably leave you dealing with some form of jet lag.
Get the dosage right. Before you start popping melatonin supplements, talk to you doctor about the recommended dosage. It will vary greatly depending on your body type and your overall health. Your doctor will also consider the length of your flight, your age, and any medications you take before he prescribes any amount of melatonin to help with your jet lag recovery.
Take melatonin prior to your trip. Although your body produces it naturally, you can take melatonin supplements to help fight and recover from jet lag. To prevent it, start taking melatonin in the few days leading up to your plane trip. Taking it in the evening is necessary so that your body gently senses that sleep should come earlier in the evening.
Continue to take melatonin during your travels to give yourself the best chance of recovery from jet lag. If you're traveling from east to west (EST to PST), simply multiply the number of time zones that you're going to be flying across by 2/3. For east to west travel across 6 zones, you'd need 4 days recovery. Similarly, if you're traveling from west to east, divide the number of times zones that you travel across by two. This would make your expected recovery from jet lag 3 days. Depending on which way you're traveling, take melatonin for 3 to 4 days after you travel as well, or over the entire length of time that you're recovering from jet lag.
Other sleep aids should help too. In addition to taking melatonin, you can also change your body's sleep patterns with other medications. Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter medications that will help you fall asleep earlier. You could also go with the time-tested remedy of some cookies and warm milk. It sounds silly, but even this bedtime snack will relax your body, helping you to fall asleep and recover quicker from jet lag.