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Melatonin for jet lag

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Generic name: Melatonin

Brand name:

Formulation: Melatonin 3 mg film-coated tablets and 1 mg/mL oral solution

Market Authorisation holder: Colonis Pharma Limited

Indication: Short-term treatment of jet lag in adults

Dose: 3 mg daily (or 6 mg daily if 3 mg daily does not adequately relieve symptoms) for a maximum of 5 days with no more than 16 courses each year

Cost: The list price of a 5-day course of 3 mg daily is £10.83 for tablets and £13.00 for oral solution

Classification: Prescription only medicine (POM)

What you need to know

  • Jet lag is a self-limiting problem that may occur after crossing time zones too rapidly for the body clock to adjust.

  • People with jet lag typically experience poor sleep, reduced mental performance, increased fatigue and gastrointestinal disturbances.

  • A licensed form of melatonin is marketed for the short-term treatment of jet lag in adults.

  • Evidence of efficacy largely comes from small studies in which the source and form of melatonin were not always reported.

  • Meta-analysis of data from four studies (232 participants) showed that jet lag severity (assessed using a 100-point scale) was 27 with melatonin and 45 with placebo.

  • Drowsiness and sleepiness, headache, dizziness and disorientation are the most frequently reported adverse effects with melatonin.

About jet lag

Jet lag is usually a benign self-limiting short-term problem that may occur after crossing time zones too rapidly for the body clock to adjust.1–4 Flying eastward seems to be more disturbing than flying westward and problems increase with the number of time zones crossed.5 Typical symptoms of jet lag occur within 1 to 2 days after travel and include poor sleep, delayed sleep and early wakening; reduced mental and physical performance; increased fatigue, frequency of headaches and irritability; and gastrointestinal disturbances.4 6 Measurement of jet lag symptoms is not straightforward and there is considerable variation …

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  • Provenance and peer review Written by the DTB team; externally peer reviewed.