Show Details

Melatonin and Jet Lag

September 21, 2009

A listener asks: Can melatonin really help decrease jet lag?


Conquering jet lag…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Listener Brian Gratwicke of Washington, D.C. has heard that the hormonal supplement melatonin can relieve the misery of jet lag. We asked health psychologist Keith Petrie of the University of Auckland in New Zealand if this is true. He explains that our bodies expect day and night to fall at certain times. Long-distance air travel throws our internal clocks out of synch, causing jetlag. But he says melatonin can indeed reset these rhythms.

KEITH PETRIE (University of Auckland)
The evidence seems to show that melatonin can improve jetlag. It probably should only be taken if you’re staying more than three days in faraway time zone, and should be taken in the evening, after you arrive, prior to bedtime.

As with any drug or supplement, people should consult their doctor before taking melatonin. And if you have a science question, give us a call at 1-800-why-isit. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.