According to WebMD, melatonin’s main job in the body is to regulate night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles. That’s because darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, which signals the body to prepare for sleep, while light decreases melatonin production and signals the body to prepare for being awake.
Travelling interferes with this process. As a result, according to the New York State Psychiatric Institute, taking melatonin supplements seems to be the most preferred method of resolving jet lag for many people.
But, Dr Jonathan Wright of Nutrition & Healing says despite the popularity of this method, it’s not that effective.
Revealed: The real reason melatonin doesn’t help with jet lag
Because while melatonin can help reset your body’s rhythms by shifting your internal clock, it can’t alleviate all the symptoms associated with jet lag or the stress of travel itself.
Symptoms associated with jet lag include running through busy airports, altered diets and sudden weather changes. These factors contribute to the exhaustion and sleep disturbances of jet lag.
So what’s an effective alternative to melatonin supplements?
Use these alternatives to cope with jet lag
Although some people fly long distances and never experience any jet lag, “the smart thing to do is try to eliminate some of the stresses of travel,” advises Dr Wright.
You can do this by planning ahead so you don’t begin your trip out of breath and in a panic over whether you’ll miss your flight. Pack the night before, eat a good breakfast and arrive early for your flight.