Melatonin makes us drowsy. Light blocks melatonin production during the day, and thereby keeps us awake. When it gets dark in the evening, melatonin production starts up again, and prepares us for sleep by making us drowsy again. This is why the room we sleep in should be completely dark, and why it is much better for health to learn to trust the darkness than to keep a ‘night light’ on. Night-lights, coffee, and other stimulants interfere with melatonin production, making it more difficult to get a ‘good night’s sleep’.
When we live normal lives, we spend our days and nights in the same time zone. Our melatonin production cycle is adjusted to this time zone’s light and dark cycle. We wake up when it gets light, and we get drowsy as the light fades. In such a stable situation, the melatonin production cycle becomes habitual.
It is this habitual melatonin production that causes jet lag when we move rapidly through many time zones. Our body may be in Australia, but our melatonin production cycle is still on North American time. To adjust to the new time zone, this habitual melatonin production cycle needs to be broken and reset. Normally, this takes up to a week, but with some help, the habitual melatonin production cycle can be broken during the time of our long flight, and re-set in the new time zone.
To break and re-set the melatonin production cycle, I suggest two natural products. The first is called a relaxation-inducing herbal sedative called Stress-Zyme (Z-23) (Apex), which is made up of a mixture of herbal extracts from St. John’s Wort, valerian root, and passionflower, and many others. Take 3 tablets three hours before the flight departs, one tablet at flight time, and one tablet every hour during the flight. Stop taking Stress-Zyme about one hour before arrival.
The second product for use on long flights is melatonin. Use 1-2 milligrams per hour, in tablet form. Take one tablet as soon as you are airborne, then one tablet every hour during the entire flight. Stop within the hour before landing.
It is important to take the melatonin at one-hour intervals during the entire flight. Taking it every hour keeps melatonin present in your body, which signals to the pineal gland that the body has enough, that no more is needed, and that production therefore should cease, whether it is light or dark. This shuts down
melatonin production during the flight. The pineal gland gets to rest throughout the flight. On arrival, stop taking melatonin. If the flight lands at night, your melatonin production will naturally start up again, because it is now dark. You will be able to sleep.
If the flight lands during the day, melatonin production will continue to be inhibited by the light. You then stay up until day ends and it get’s dark where you are, at which time melatonin production will start up again. You may have been up for a long day (as many extra hours as the number of time zones you passed through), are likely to be quite tired, and will sleep beautifully. Next morning, you’ll be completely adjusted to the time zone. That is the power of stopping and re-setting your melatonin production cycle during your flight.
By taking melatonin at one-hour intervals during the flight, the pineal gland’s melatonin production is stopped. Stopping melatonin production by taking melatonin during the flight puts the gland in a state of restful inactivity.
This restful inactivity, which lasts as many hours as the flight, breaks the gland’s habitual melatonin production cycle. Cessation of melatonin intake then allows for the pineal to start up melatonin production again, based on the light-dark cycle at the traveler’s destination. The habitual melatonin production cycle will have been broken. A new melatonin production cycle, aligned with the light-dark cycle of the destination, can then begin.
I do not recommend taking melatonin every night. Chronic use of supplemental melatonin can result in the gland becoming lazy. It is better to get the gland to do its job, except short-term, in situations that are not natural to our biology, such as flying.
It is, however, useful to take melatonin on a daily basis for older people whose pineal gland is not producing enough. This is usually not an issue for some people younger than 60 years old. Some older people may be unable to sleep more than 4 hours a night, and then be tired all day, because their pineal gland
is no longer producing enough melatonin for a good night’s sleep. For these people, regular melatonin use may be helpful. A health practitioner’s guidance should be followed in these cases.