Jet Lag

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Melatonin Use for travel in Teens

Sept 2010

We are about to travel overseas on an overnight flight and Melatonin has been recommended to me as a way to combat jet lag - my concern is that the warnings on the product I bought (all natural) says specifically ''not for use by teens.''

I have done some basic research but can't get a definitive answer on why I should not give it to my teen when boarding our flight (it would be a minimal use).

Does anyone know if a very limited use like this (one or two days on either end of a long trip) will have an adverse effect on her hormonal system, or for that matter with my 10 year old as well?

Any info is greatly appreciated! I just want to make sure they sleep on the overnight flight!

Hi, I have used Melatonin on many trips to Europe, and it has worked great for me. I have also given Melatonin to my six-year old, and it worked. I don't have any advice to offer concerning teens. - Since you mentioned giving/taking melatonin when boarding the flight, I wanted to say a word of caution: Melatonin is *not* a sleeping pill. It will not make you sleep, it just re-sets your internal clock. If you or your children aren't able to sleep on the plane because of the noise or being unable to get comfortable, you'll feel as though as pulled an all-nighter. At times when something prevented me from falling asleep after I took melatonin, I had hangovers that I'd say were worse than hangovers from sleeping aids or simple lack of sleep. - Make it through the flight, get to your destination, make it through the day (with or without naps), and then take the melatonin at bedtime. Best of luck, Grateful for melatonin

I've never heard that children/teens should not take melatoning - did not realize it was written on the bottle. My daughter (14) has taken it nightly for about two years due to difficulty falling asleep - her circadian rhythms just don't fit with the schedule she has to keep. A lot of parents on a list-serve I'm on have used it with their children/teens. Re: jet lag, everyone in my family (2 adults, 2 kids) used it last summer for a return trip Hong Kong to the US to help with the jet lag. For 3 of the 4 of us it was helpful. Do you have a healthcare practitioner who's open to complementary medicine whom you could ask? Not all would be knowledgable/open to this, however. another parent - not a homeopath or MD

Dealing with jet lag in 6-year-old

May 2010

We are traveling to France this summer and i'd appreciate suggestions on how to deal with jet lag in a six year old--any creative solutions and/or remedies, etc. to try? Thanks First Big Trip Overseas

Hi We travel toFrance every year with our now 4.5 years old. We just came back, and this was the first trip where he had jetlag. Prior to that he would immediately adjust. Sleeping on the plane makes a difference, especially because it is soooo long and for someone that age eventually boring. We gave him Melatonin and he slept about 5 hours.

After that, what works for you works for them. The first day we were up at 2am and just read and hung out until morning. We had a wedding the second day and went to bed a midnight and that was enough to set my son and husband to the ''new time''. But overall after 16 years of doing this yearly, my experience is that you should simply ''go with the flow''. It will take about 3 days. If you can encourage your child (and you) to take a nap it will make a difference because he'll stay up later. hope this helps magaliusa

I suggest you try to take a late afternoon/early evening flight from The Bay Area. Therefore, you will fly over night and will get there 11/noon - something like that. Your child can sleep on the plane. I did this with my 9 Year old this past Thanksgiving and he had absolutely no jet lag whatsoever. He did far better than me.

On the way home, it seems to me that all the flights enable you to have daylight the entire way back ( 10+ European trips that I have taken). It is relatively easy to stay up, and your youngster can go to sleep early upon arrival and sleep through the night.

As far as planes, we flew Air France direct SFO to CDG. The flight was fine but simultaneously horrible. There is absolutely no leg room in coach and the food was inedible (and I will eat anything). However, it was a direct flight, every seat has its own TV. Everyone was polite and we were on time in both directions and all our bags showed up. Bon Voyage!

We travel to the UK 2X every year with our now 4YO since she was a tiny baby. If your child sleeps some on the plane and you keep the child awake until proper bedtime, they bounce onto the right schedule pretty quickly. frequent flyer

Lucky you! I hope your trip is fantastic. As for jet lag, there are several brands of homeopathic products designed to help your body adjust to the new time zone. The one I've used for many years is 'No Jet Lag'. It was developed by the Kiwi's out of necessity, I suspect, as they need to travel many time zones to get anywhere! Check Whole Foods, Berkeley Bowl or your small, independent natural food store. Oh, and I'm fairly certain that it is for use in children ages 6 and up (do read the box, though). There's also a great yoga pose which will help: legs up the wall. With your back, torso and head on the floor, elevate your legs at a 90 degree angle up the wall and relax for as long as you can. Repeat as often as you can/wish for the first few days. Happy Trails to you! Caryn

Handling jet leg for my 18 month old

Sept 2009

Our family is going to France for a couple of weeks to see my son's grandparents and I am wondering if anyone has some good advice on handling jet lag to and from so that we can enjoy our short vacation. Any advice is welcome! anon

We have been going back and forth to france with our 4 year old since he was 3 months old. The first 3 times (3 months, 1 year and 2.5 years) he wasn't affected at all. We took the non stop flight on Air france and he slept well in the bassinet (the first 2 times). Once we got to my parents (early afternoon) he just went on with his day until 7.30pm, his regular bed time. The last time, he did have some jet lag. He slept 5 hours on the plane and since we stoped we got there late. He was awake a bit in the middle of the night but we told him it was quiet time and he was good. A close friend does it as often and has more issue. We are more schedule oriented but i don't know if this is why. One thing i can say is that you should just do what you would for yourself...just let your baby adjust ..he/she will just like you do. there is not much you can do to actually plan it. bonnes vacances! magaliusa

Combatting jet lag - conference in Europe

Sept 2008

Help! I am giving a paper in Europe next month and have been scheduled for a session that starts at 5 p.m., two days after arriving. From past experience in traveling overseas I know that at that point in the day I'll be almost comatose. I also remember that the second night is usually worse than the first for me, which means that I'll be working on even less sleep that day. Does anyone have any great methods for overcoming jet lag? Thanks! anon.

We regularly travel to Europe and while we don't suffer too badly from jet-lag, our kids do. This is our Jet-Lag Reduction Plan(TM):
- Prior to leaving (from US) get up progressively earlier and earlier and go to bed earlier and earlier each day. About an hour extra each day, for as many days as you can stand. We might manage 4 hours earlier on the day before travelling, built up over 4 days.
- Flying is overnight, so the day of landing will be especially unpleasant, but that's not a day for doing anything much anyway.
- After the landing day, there is only 4 (or 5) hours to make up.
- The return (from Europe) is easier, as the adjustment is by staying up late rather than getting up early which I think most people find easier.
I suppose you can look at this as shifting some of the jet-lag to before the trip, but it does work (for us) and prevents any extreme awake-all-night type behaviour. Adrian Martin theadrianmartin [at]

Melatonin!!! I have traveled to India, Asia and Europe many times and I always take melatonin. You can get it at any health food store in the supplement aisle. It's a sleep hormone that your body naturally creates to help establish circadian (day/night) rhythms. It has lots of other benefits too, including being an antioxidant. Whenever I take it I wake up feeling refreshed and not at all druggy. It works differently with different people, though. So start out before you go, taking a tiny dose to see how it affects you. As soon as you begin your journey, start taking the melatonin when it's ''supposed'' to be night in your destination city. I never leave my time zone without melatonin! Lisa

I have found the homeopathic remedy No-Jet-Lag to be a life saver. I travel to europe every year to see my family and that has made a huge difference. It used to take me close to a week to acclimatize to local time, now I'm there the next day. it's easy to take - just take it every 2hrs from the moment you lift off until landing. love it. available at Elephant and i think I saw it at Berkeley bowl too. frequent flyer

I've had just the same problem, and I have come up with a remedy that mostly works -- or at least it did when I lived on the East Coast. The trick is to get your body as close as possible to European time before you leave. Start a week or more in advance of your trip by getting up an hour earlier every day -- if you usually get up at 7, get up at 6, then 5, then 4, etc. Compensate in the evening by going to be an hour earlier. Yes, this will mean some scheduling difficulties, but do as much as you can, because it means that you will hit the ground running. This technique works very well, but I admit that it was easier on the East Coast, where the time difference was only 6 hours. The additional three hours here makes things harder, but again, do as much time shifting as you can. Katie

I don't really believe in homeopathy (sorry to the believers out there), but a couple of years ago I started to use ''No Jet Lag,'' a homeopathic treatment for jet lag. I swear it works. It's a little package of small pills; you take one every two hours while flying and upon take-off and landing. Since the active ingredients in homeopathic remedies are tiny, it certainly can't hurt, and it has helped me. Virtually no jet lag for the last several European trips. I have a colleague who says it didn't work for him, however... But worth a try. wide awake

Funny, I always have a much harder time coming back to the states... Regardless, my method is pretty simple: as soon as I get seated on the plane, I set my watch to the time it is where I'm landing, and I begin to tell myself that this is the real time. If this new ''false'' time is in the middle of the night, that means go back to sleep. If it's 6 AM, I need to stay awake. Also, if it's sleeping time, just pop some Nyquil or SimplySleep -- it's so worth it. If you're worried about taking too much, SimplySleep comes two pills per dose -- just take one. One knocks me out, no problem, and I weigh 200 pounds. kevin

I used a remedy called NoJetLag once, on a trip to France, and it seemed to work well. They're pills, supposedly all natural ingredients, that you take every couple hours on the flight over. Bought at Elephant. Good luck! Anon

Perhaps you could start adjusting to your destination's local time a few days before your trip. I tend to travel to the East Coast infrequently, but when I do, I start adjusting to the new time zone a few days before my trip. That is, since there's a 3 hour difference between here and the East Coast, I'll go to bed at 8:00 pm (instead of 11:00 pm) and wake at 4:00 am (instead of 7:00 am). It makes for a quick adjustment to the local travel time. MJT

Hi Traveler, I used to travel to Europe for work often. I would generally arrive at my destination, have one day to setup and then the following day arrive at work at 7:30am.

The most important thing is to force yourself to be on the countries time zone on your arrival day. No matter how tired you are do not go to sleep when you get there. It can be tough. Take a walk, go get a meal, stay out of your hotel room or it is too easy to just ''rest your eyes for a minute.'' Then go to sleep that night at a normal bedtime for the time zone you are in. You will wake up the next morning and you will be fine. I always found it much more difficult to come back to the States.

Another option is to ask your DR for a couple of Ambien. They will usually be fine with prescribing a couple for travel. Be sure not to take it unless you have a full 8 hours to sleep. After that, you will wake up in the morning and be fine. Good Luck! Anon