The easy way to avoid jet lag – but it’s not easy in the UK

There is nothing worse than coming back from vacation and being up at 3am.

And as someone who travels for work, I’m often severely affected by jet lag.

Sleeping on vacation can be difficult after a long flight


Sleeping on vacation can be difficult after a long flightPhoto credit: Getty

I’ve tried all the techniques – exercising, restricting my eating and drinking – but nothing has ever worked.

As someone who always takes a nap in the middle of the day – a big no-go – I was taught a different technique by an American friend.

She told me she swears by melatonin pills, both on night flights and trying to adjust to a different time zone.

As someone who had never taken sleeping pills, I wasn’t sure at first.

However, on a recent trip to San Diego, I popped into the CVS pharmacy nearby and bought a bottle of strawberry-flavored vitamins.

It is recommended to take it 20 minutes before bedtime.

I was skeptical but they changed my vacation.

Even though I was seven hours behind, I just took one of these before bed and ended up getting a full nine hours of sleep.

While they won’t knock you out like sleeping pills, they just help you get that tired feeling.

For example, I also took one on the night flight home before the meal service – only to have it delayed by turbulence.

An hour later my meal was served and I definitely felt sleepy but managed to wait long enough to pass out.

And after getting back home — where jet lag is most likely to occur — I found that before bed meant I avoided it entirely with a full night’s rest.

There is one downside though – you can’t get them over the counter in the UK.

You will need to be prescribed melatonin, something doctors may hesitate to do.

I struggled to get a prescription from my doctor, even though I explained my frequent travel for work.

This is the same across Europe, although the US has fewer rules as it can be sold over the counter.

However, you should talk to your doctor before taking any new supplements.

It is recommended to start with around 1mg and only go up to a maximum of 10mg.

It is also not recommended to take it every night.

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Is Melatonin Safe?

Melatonin is generally safe for short-term use, although you do need a prescription in the UK.

When using melatonin for the first time, it is recommended not to take more than 2 mg per day.

It takes about 1 to 2 hours for melatonin to work.

But melatonin can cause some side effects, including:

  • Headache
  • depression
  • Daily fatigue
  • dizziness
  • Stomach cramps
  • irritability

Here are some other sleep aids you can take.

And we’ve rounded up some other jet lag tips to try and reduce symptoms, including the best foods to eat.

In the UK, melatonin can only be prescribed


In the UK, melatonin can only be prescribedPhoto credit: Getty The easy way to avoid jet lag – but it’s not easy in the UK

Andrew Schnitker

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