Traveling this holiday season & worried about jet lag?Melatonin has quickly become a must-have for travelers everywhere, thanks to its ability to help combat the jet lag that typically comes with crossing time zones.** So what is melatonin and how can you optimize it during your holiday traveling?
What is Melatonin?When discussing melatonin, let`s start at the source of it all: the pineal gland! This pea-sized, pine cone-shaped gland is a part of the endocrine system, and is located near the center of the brain in the epithalamus. Melatonin, which is derived from serotonin, is produced in the pineal gland. This hormone plays an important role as our biological time keeper, and is responsible for the bodyâ€™s seasonal and circadian rhythm, better known as the internal clock.
How does Melatonin work?The body naturally increases melatonin production at the onset of darkness, helping to prepare for sleep. The level of melatonin in the body decreases with daylight to prepare for wakefulness, and so the cycle continues. Many people take melatonin supplements to help regulate this sleep cycle and to encourage better sleep quality overall.** It is important to note that melatonin supplements are notâ€œsleeping pills, and that they are only effective when levels of this hormone are low in the body. This is key in why melatonin can be so helpful for people who are experiencing jet lag, when the night or day comes at a time the body may not be prepared for and therefore is not secreting melatonin, throwing off this natural sleep cycle.**
Melatonin & Jet LagA good starting point for people in supplementing melatonin is in 3 mg servings, though everyone will react differently to various potencies. Typically, melatonin may promote a sense of drowsiness around 30 minutes after taking and can last for around 1 hour. When taken in the early evening, these supplements can advance the nighttime peak of melatonin secretion in the body, helping to support quality sleep.** By the morning, these levels in the body are cleared, and many people wake feeling well-rested and refreshed.** When it comes to combating pesky jet lag, one can help to avoid this interrupted sleep cycle by planning melatonin supplementation prior to departing and after arriving in the new location. Melatonin in 5 mg servings is often used for jet lag purposes, but anywhere from 1 to 12 mg can be used, depending on your individual preferences. There are two commonly suggested ways to use melatonin to help with jet lag:
- Start taking melatonin supplements a few days before departure, especially if your destination is east from where you are starting. Take at around 30 minutes before bedtime. Once you`ve arrived in your new destination, take one last supplement the first evening you are there.
- Do not take melatonin prior to departure. Instead, start your supplementation the first evening of your arrival around 30 minutes before bedtime. Continue to take the melatonin before bedtime each night for 3-5 days in the new location, depending on the length of your stay.