Flying Over the Holidays? Take This…

In All Health Watch, Featured Article, General Health

If you’re jumping time zones in the near future…we have something that could help you adjust quickly and arrive fresh. It’s a popular supplement that’s actually a hormone but people have been misusing it for years.

If you think you don’t need it, keep in mind that airplane travel isn’t a “natural” experience. Our ancestors traveled by foot, which means they never had to adjust to sudden time zone changes, so you may need a little something extra to help.

And there’s a study that shows the hormone can do just that. It was published in The Cochrane Library, which we’ve told you before is the gold standard in medical research.

The study was led by Professor Keith Petrie, Ph.D. He’s a psychological medicine expert and he teaches in the School of Medicine at The University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Dr. Petrie wanted to see if the hormone could treat and possibly prevent jet lag.

“(The hormone) is remarkably effective in preventing or reducing jet lag,” he says. “Occasional short-term use appears to be safe.”

But there’s one vital fact you need to know before taking this hormone. We’ll tell you what it is shortly…and reveal why it works so well for jet lag.

Flying High on Arrival

The hormone we’re talking about is melatonin. That’s right…it’s a hormone, not just a supplement. Melatonin helps regulate your circadian rhythm. When it’s dark outside, your body produces melatonin to prepare for sleep.

Dr. Petrie looked at different melatonin dosages for people who got jet lag from traveling across several times zones. He reviewed 10 different trials that compared melatonin with a placebo.

Eight of the 10 showed that taking melatonin decreased jet lag with flights that crossed five or more time zones. Even more important, he found that the timing of the melatonin dose had a major impact.

“If it is taken at the wrong time, early in the day, it is liable to cause sleepiness and delay adaptation to local time,” he says.

Dr. Petrie also discovered that daily doses between 0.5-5 mg are effective, but doses higher than 5 mg were not any more effective.

His study has important health implications. Just recently, a study from the University of California-Berkeley showed that jet lag has dangerous and long-lasting consequences.

“The takeaway is that if you are repeatedly jet lagged, you’re in danger causing potential damage to your brain,” says Dr. Lance Kriegsfeld.

He’s a professor of psychology at Berkeley. Dr. Kriegsfeld offers more insight into how it affects your brain.

“(Jet lag) leads to a reduction in the number of neurons that are added to the adult brain,” he says.

But Be Careful…

Many of you could be making the mistake of taking melatonin on a regular basis. You shouldn’t be doing that because you’re messing with the hormones in your body. If you continue to take melatonin consistently, your body will stop producing it. And that means your sleep troubles could get worse.

So melatonin is not best used as a daily supplement.

But jumping time zones plays tricks on your body…so you can use melatonin to counteract the effects and fool your “internal clock” back to normal. It will also help you overcome the dangers of jet lag, which can range from a weakened immune system and sleep disorders…to increased cancer risk.

If you’re going to take melatonin, you should take 2-5 mg an hour before you want to sleep. You can find it online or at any health foods store. It’s available as a liquid or in capsules. But make sure you get the natural form of melatonin and not the synthetic version.

Whenever you arrive at a new time zone your goal is to adjust as quickly as possible. Try adapting to whatever time it is by going to sleep the same time as everyone else in your new location.

We would like to wish you and your family safe travels over the holiday season.