Cochrane Summaries

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Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag

Herxheimer A, Petrie KJ
Published Online: 
8 July 2009

Jet lag commonly affects air travellers who cross several time zones. It results from the body's internal rhythms being out of step with the day-night cycle at the destination. Melatonin is a pineal hormone that plays a central part in regulating bodily rhythms and has been used as a drug to re-align them with the outside world. Melatonin is remarkably effective in preventing or reducing jet lag, and occasional short-term use appears to be safe. It should be recommended to adult travellers flying across five or more time zones, particularly in an easterly direction, and especially if they have experienced jet lag on previous journeys. Travellers crossing 2-4 time zones can also use it if need be.