Jet Lag

Following a recent review by our clinical team, our doctors do not consider it appropriate to supply this treatment via an online consultation only. If you are seeking this or similar medication, we advise you to make an appointment with your regular doctor who can properly assess your suitability for treatment.

Most of us who have travelled abroad are familiar with the effects of Jet lag, but few people know that there are treatments available only on private prescription which can help alleviate this condition. In this section, we will explain everything you need to know about this common condition and whether seeking treatment from PharmaDoctor is right for you. We provide full information about the treatment as well as helpful tips on how to alleviate the worst effects of long distance travel.

Pharmadoctor can provide you with an online prescription for jet lag following an online consultation with our GMC-registered doctor.

What is it?

The treatment available is a naturally occuring hormone consisting of two chemical compounds, tryptophan, an amino acid and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the contribution of feelings of happiness and wellbeing. It controls sleepiness hence has a powerful influence on the body clock.

How does it work?

the treatment has a rapid, mild sleepiness-inducing effect. Because of this trait, properly timed the treatment supplements may help people adapt to changes in sleep-wake schedules, as may occur after jet travel across many time zones or in shift work. The effectiveness of the treatment for relieving insomnia is uncertain.

Main points to consider

  • The speed at which the body adjusts to the new schedule depends on the individual; some people may require several days to adjust to a new time zone, while others experience little disruption.
  • Crossing one or two time zones does not typically cause jet lag.

When travelling east:

  • On the day of departure, between 6 and 7 p.m. on home time, on the flight if necessary, a dose of the treatment is taken. Cautionary note: the treatment may lower alertness. If taken before departure, you should not drive yourself to the airport.
  • On the day of arrival, the treatment is taken at the new local bedtime and continued for four days.
  • If the stay is less than four days, and travel is going to continue further in an eastward direction, the treatment is taken between 6 and 7 p.m. the day before departure, not at bedtime.
  • On the day of arrival, the treatment is taken at the new local bedtime and continued for four days.

When travelling west:

  • Melatonin offers little or no advantage on trips of fewer than five time zones westward. The body normally takes only a day or two to adapt to such changes.
  • When crossing more than five time zones westward, starting on the day of arrival, a dose of the treatment is taken at local bedtime, and continued for four days.
  • If the traveler awakens before 4 a.m., another tablet or capsule may be taken.


About Jet lag

Jet lag is not linked to the length of flight, but to the west-east distance traveled. A ten-hour flight from Europe to southern Africa does not cause jet lag, as travel is primarily north-south. A five hour flight from the east to the west coast of the United States may well result in jet lag. Crossing one or two time zones does not typically cause jet lag.

Jet lag can be aggravated by air travel itself as it usually entails dehydration, lower oxygen intake due to the conditioned cabin air, tiredness and lack of sleep or stress.

  • Ensure that you are well rested and have a light snack rather than a heavy meal before you embark on your journey.
  • Drink plenty of water, at least 250ml (half a pint) of water for every hour spent on an airplane.
  • Refrain from sugared or caffeinated foods as they will keep you awake and do not take any sleeping aids.
  • Get some gentle exercise by walking around on the plane provided the seat belt sign is switched off, move your hands, feet and legs and stretch your neck muscles.

When you travel across a number of time zones, the body clock goes out of sync with the destination time, and so it experiences daylight and darkness contrary to the rhythms it has grown accustomed to.

The body's natural pattern therefore becomes upset as the rhythms which dictate when you should eat and sleep no longer correspond to the environment of your destination.

Jet lag can manifest itself in various ways which are individually different, however certain charcteristics apply in most cases. You may find that your mental alterness and your physical reflexes are slower than normal. Other symptoms often described by those affected are:

  • Fatigue
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling groggy and exhausted
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and feeling somewhat disorientated
  • Temporary depression
  • Digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Appetite loss

Most jet lagged people will feel tired yet they cannot sleep at the appropriate bedtime in the destination country. You should take this into account when scheduling important meetings that require concentration and unimpaired judgment, long trips and excursions, especially if they require you to drive a vehicle. Ideally, you should allow you and your body enough time to adapt to the new time zone and factor this in when planning your trip. Unfortunately, this is usually unrealistic and rarely feasible.