Caffeine, Melatonin May Ease Jet Lag
Slow-Release Caffeine and Melatonin Have Mixed Effects on Jet Lag
Feb. 6, 2004 -- In the never-ending search for a cure for jet
lag, researchers may have finally found something to ease the sleep problems
that accompany international travel. Or have they?
A new study shows two of most popular substances used to combat
jet lag, caffeine and melatonin, a hormone, may provide mixed blessings for
people who suffer from the common condition.
For example, a new slow-release version of caffeine may help
you stay awake during the day, but it may also keep you up at night. And
melatonin may help you sleep at night, but it won't keep you from dozing off in
Do you have trouble sleeping? Take this quick
Mixed Blessings for Jet Lag
In the study, researchers tested the effects of slow-release
caffeine and melatonin on three groups of nine U.S. Air Force Reservists. Each
of the men and women typically went to bed between 11 p.m. and midnight and
slept about 6.5-7.5 hours.
For five days, the reservists had identical routines at their
Texas base. Then they boarded a plane for France and were not allowed to sleep
during the flight, which crossed seven time zones.
Each group received either slow-release caffeine (300 mg at 8
a.m.), 5 mg of melatonin starting the evening before the flight and for the
next four evenings, or a placebo.
Researchers found both drugs had positive effects in relieving
some common symptoms of jet lag after an eastbound flight.
The slow-release caffeine helped alleviate daytime sleepiness,
but it also had some unwanted side effects by reducing the quality of nighttime
In contrast, melatonin users experienced better quality sleep
but still felt sleepy during the day.
The results appear in the January issue of the Journal of
Researchers say some of the beneficial effects of the drugs may
have been reduced because the participants were deprived of sleep during the
flight. They say more studies are needed to fully understand the effects of
these drugs in relieving jet lag.