B. Wingler is a flight attendant and the author of the newly released
guide, Travel Alone and Love it. If anyone should know about dealing
with jet lag, it is this much travelled woman.
began researching melatonin because I'd heard so much about it being
used to combat jet lag. My health food guru told me it is primarily
used as a sleep aid. He said his store can hardly keep up with the
demand for it. One customer was cured of a 15 year case of insomnia.
In further reading it occurred to me that melatonin seems to be
the "vitamin C" of the 90s. Some studies have shown it to offer
many exciting benefits. Among them are not only help in fighting
jet lag and insomnia, but also help in the fight against aging and
cancer. It seems to boost the body's immune system and protects
cells from free-radical damage.
is melatonin? It is a hormone that occurs naturally in the human
body. Secreted by the pineal gland in response to light, melatonin
helps regulate the rhythms of our sleep and the action of other
hormones. The level of melatonin in our bodies peaks in childhood
and continue to decline as we age. Therefore, replacing the older
body's "lost" melatonin helps us to "sleep like a baby."
cautious with this, as with many other supplements, as the jury
is still out over long term effects. Still, as a sleep aid, it seems
to me to be more natural and, safer than sleeping pills. The pills
I have are sublingual (to be dissolved under the tongue) and in
2.5 milligram strength. I usually break the tablet into half dose
size. I have always slept well but I do notice that I drift off
to sleep a bit more quickly with melatonin, and I wake up with no
recommended nightly dosage in combating jet lag is 5 milligrams.
You should not continue this high a dosage after your jet lag passes.
Definitely do not take melatonin with a sleeping pill. Read the
label carefully for any possible warnings. Melatonin is not to be
taken by children, teenagers, pregnant or lactating women, nor by
people with certain medical conditions. It is best to ask your doctor
further information, you may read the articles in Newsweek, August
7, 1995 and Newsweek, November 6, 1995. Books include The Melatonin
Miracle, by Pierpaoli and Regelson with Colman (Simon and Shuster)
and Melatonin: Your Body's Natural Wonder Drug by Reiter and Robinson
Ed. note: To
date, melatonin can be purchased freely in the U.S.A. but has not
yet been approved by the Canadian Food and Drug. And, while it is
illegal for stores to sell it in Canada, there seems to be no law
against bringing it in from the States.