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Melatonin for Jet Lag: Nine of the ten trials found that melatonin, taken close to the target bedtime at the destination (10pm to midnight), decreased jet-lag from flights crossing five or more time zones. Daily doses of melatonin between 0.5 and 5mg are similarly effective, except that people fall asleep faster and sleep better after 5mg than 0.5mg. Doses above 5mg appear to be no more effective. 2mg slow-release melatonin is not effective. Melatonin taken mornings causes sleepiness during the day (Cochrane Review, The Cochrane Library, Issue 2, 2003).

Melatonin for Insomnia: No good data show that melatonin treats insomnia. Melatonin may help normal people fall asleep at night, but has not been shown to help chronic insomniacs under age 65 fall asleep at night, and scant evidence shows that it helps insomniacs over 65 fall and stay asleep at night. There is strong evidence that melatonin taken during the day helps people to fall and stay asleep when they nap.

Side Effects: The incidence of other side effects is low. People who take drugs to prevent epilepsy and clotting should not take melatonin. On rare occasions men may lose libido and suffer enlarged breasts. Dr. Richard Wurtman of MIT analyzed several current products on the market sold as melatonin and found that some contained no melatonin.

Natural Sources of Melatonin: Melatonin is produced by plants as well as animals, but you would have to eat more than 120 bananas or 30 large bowls of rice at one time to ingest the 3-mg dose of melatonin recommended to help you fall asleep.

Checked 6/10/18

June 4th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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