Jet lagged? Just suffer, and save some money

Melatonin, a hormone widely touted as a good remedy for jet lag and myriad other ailments and afflictions, may not actually offer much help to weary travellers. A new study reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry takes aim at the alleged benefits of melatonin, which is available over the counter in the U.S. and frequently “imported” into Canada.

The study took advantage of the five day trip to New York City made by a group of 257 Norwegian physicians. The doctors were variously given 5 milligrams (mg) of melatonin at bedtime, 0.5 mg at bedtime, 0.5 mg taken at various times each day, or placebos. They were then asked to rate their jet lag symptoms on the day they travelled from New York to Oslo and for the following six days. The ratings were compared to baselines set while the group was in New York. The most common symptoms were fatigue, daytime sleepiness, decreased daytime alertness and trouble concentrating or thinking clearly.

The conclusion? “The use of melatonin for preventing jet lag needs further study,” according to the study’s report. Lead author Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, a psychiatrist at Columbia University, says that the study showed that theifferent doses of melatonin were no better than placebo in preventing lag. And in what may be the most convincing statement, the doctor advises the he has stopped taking melatonin when travelling.