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Melatonin & Medication For Jet Lag: Everything You Need To Know

Worried about jet lag? Melatonin is the best way to keep your body feeling fresh and adjust to your new time zone.

If you’ve ever felt the disorienting effects of long-haul flights, disrupted sleep patterns, and the disconcerting tug-of-war between excitement and fatigue, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of medication for jet lag, but the best one by far is melatonin.

If you’re worried about jet lag, melatonin is the best way to ensure you keep your body feeling fresh when you step off the plane and adjust to your new time zone.

In this article, we’ll delve into the causes and symptoms of jet lag, melatonin and how it works, the dosages, and tips for taking melatonin for jet lag.

medication for jetlag

Understanding Jet Lag

Jet lag (also known as flight fatigue or desynchronosis) is a temporary sleep disorder. It occurs when your body’s internal clock (known as your circadian rhythm) doesn’t sync up with the time zone you’re in.

What are the causes?

Jet lag is usually caused by traveling across multiple time zones in a short period of time. This disrupts your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to light (the thing that controls your circadian rhythm), can confuse your internal clock, leading to that horrible groggy feeling.

Most Common Jet Lag Symptoms:

The common symptoms of jet lag include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep disruption
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Difficulty concentrating

How Long Does Jet Lag Last?

Jet lag symptoms usually last for a few days and fade as your body adjusts to the new time zone. So, it’s not the end of the world. But if you’re only staying for a few days, you’ll struggle to make the most of your trip.

Taking Melatonin for Jet Lag

As we mentioned earlier, there is other medication for jet lag. Medications such as benzodiazepines can be used, but these jet lag pills can lead to grogginess as well. On top of that, they’re only available through a prescription, and they’re highly addictive.

melatonin for jetlag

What It Is & How It Works

Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally created in your body from the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate your circadian rhythm. Melatonin is influenced by the presence or absence of light.

Melatonin for jet lag helps to kickstart your body’s production of melatonin. It helps to readjust your internal clock, which causes sleepiness. This helps you adapt to new time zones better, because it doesn’t make you sleep, but rather helps your body adapt to your new location’s time.


The melatonin dose for jet lag varies from person to person. Usually, though, melatonin dosages range from 0.5mg to 5mg. Melatonin is usually considered safe for short-term usage, but you should speak to a medical professional for advice on how to take it if you’ve got health conditions, or if you’re pregnant or nursing.

You should also be wary of taking melatonin for jet lag if you’re taking the following medication:

  • Blood pressure medications
  • Diabetes medications
  • Anticoagulants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Immunosuppressant medications
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Contraceptives

Side Effects

Like all other medication for jet lag, melatonin does have side effects.
They’re not nearly as bad as other jet lag pills, but if you aren’t responsible about your dosages, you may experience the following side effects:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Digestive issues

These symptoms are unpleasant, but they’re usually really mild, so they aren’t a huge inconvenience.

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How Much Melatonin Do I Need For Jet Lag?

The melatonin does for jet lag should normally be taken in small dosages (like 0.5mg – 1mg). You can increase your dosage over time, but don’t go over 5mg without talking to a specialist.

Can Kids Get Melatonin For Jet Lag?

Taking melatonin for jet lag is normally safe for adults. But if you want to give it to your children, you should speak to a pediatrician first. They may give you a lower dose than you’d have thought to take.

Tips for Using Melatonin

Taking melatonin for jet lag can be incredibly beneficial, but it’s important that you take it at the right time.

You should start taking melatonin a few days before your trip around the time you’d usually go to bed in the new time zone.

Melatonin should be taken 30 minutes to an hour before you plan on going to bed to give it time to work and make you feel sleepy.

how much melatonin i need for jetlag

Preparing Before Heading Off

Before you pack your melatonin for jet lag, you should make sure you’re clued up.

Speak to a specialist

It’s a good idea to book a consultation with a medical professional. They can help you figure out whether or not you should be taking melatonin, how much you should take, and how to adjust your dosages.

Understand international rules and regulations

Melatonin is a hormone, so it’s available over-the-counter (OTC) in most places in the world. However, it’s currently banned as an OTC medication in the following places:

  • The European Union
  • The United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Canada

It’s important to note that these countries have only banned melatonin as over-the-counter medication, so it’s still available with a prescription.

Rules and regulations change all the time, though.
So make sure you double-check before you jet!

melatonin dose for jetlag

International Prescriptions

If you feel like you’ll need melatonin for jet lag on your trip back, you should make sure you can get prescription medication while abroad.

Make sure you go for a checkup before your flight and double-check your prescription. If you need a letter from your doctor, you should make sure you get that too. And, if you need a script abroad, you should know how to book a consultation with a doctor if you need to get a valid, local prescription.


Taking melatonin for jet lag is a helpful way to keep your body’s internal clock in check when you’re shooting off to other time zones. It’s a great natural remedy, and you can get it over-the-counter in many places. But you should make sure you’re taking the right melatonin dose for jet lag that works best for you. So, schedule an appointment with your GP, and make sure you’re in the know on all of the rules and regulations abroad.

Download the Air Doctor App to Travel Worry-Free

If you find yourself feeling under the weather during your time away from home, you can use the Air Doctor app to access trusted local care abroad.

Air Doctor is a must-have app for travelers that provides them with peace of mind.
Travelers like you, can instantly open the app to book a clinic, at-home (hotel), or video visit in just a few easy taps. Just browse and filter from over 20,000 doctors and specialists and get quality medical care, anywhere, anytime.

Download the Air Doctor App on the App Store or Google Play, or visit the website and use the web app to find a local doctor near you now!

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Jenny Cohen Drefler

Jenny Cohen Derfler

Air Dr CEO & Co-Founder

Jenny is the CEO and one of the Co-Founders at Air Doctor. She spent more than 20 years at Intel, most recently as general manager of its manufacturing facility in Israel and before that in various engineering and manufacturing roles in Silicon Valley. Air Doctor is her second startup having previously founded electric vehicle company ElectRoad.