Jet Lag Treatment Tablets
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- You should take one Circadin tablet at night, roughly 1-2 hours before going to bed and after food, for two to four nights on arrival in the new time zone.
- Melatonin should only be taken if the time difference is three or more hours different from the UK.
- If you miss a dose, do not take it the next morning or double up. Continue taking your treatment the next night as usual if it is still needed.
You may also find the following advice useful to help prevent jet lag:
- Top up on sleep before you go. Make sure you’re fully rested before you leave, tiredness can make jet lag worse.
- Slowly change your sleep routine before you leave. Try adjusting your sleep routine a few days before you travel. If you’re travelling east go to bed slightly earlier than normal and try to stay up slightly later if you’re going west.
- Take an overnight flight if possible. Sleeping overnight on the plane will let you wake up in the morning when you land. It is important to try to stay up until night time once you reach your new destination.
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can make jet lag worse so drink plenty of fluids and avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol if possible.
- Go outdoors when you arrive. Exposure or daylight and darkness is one of the most crucial factors in setting your body clock. If you expose yourself to natural light at your destination it will help to speed up the change in your body clock.
Circadin (melatonin) 2mg tablets are available from THE Medical Online Doctor service, following a free consultation, to help ease jet lag in those travelling over three or more time zones. To find out more about jet lag, see our Online Doctor Jet Lag page.
Circadin 2mg tablets contain the active ingredient melatonin. Melatonin a hormone that is released naturally in your body when it is dark, letting your body know it is time for sleep. Melatonin helps to control the body clock (circadian rhythm) and acts at chemical receptors in the brain to promote sleep. Melatonin in Circadin 2mg tablets will help to alter your normal circadian rhythm to allow you to sleep when it is dark in your new time zone and therefore ease the symptoms of jet lag.
Melatonin is normally used to treat insomnia in patients over the age of 55, however it can also be prescribed for short-term use in patients who are travelling across numerous times zones to treat jet lag. Circadin should be taken at bedtime in your new time zone on the day of arrival. It should then be continued for 2 – 5 nights depending on response and persistence of jet lag. You will not feel a sudden drowsiness with melatonin; it should produce a more natural sleepiness that develops over 1 -2 hours after taking it.
You normally only suffer with jet lag if you travel across three or more time zones and you should not need to take melatonin. Jet lag can be particularly bad when travelling East, this may mean it is worse on returning from your journey. Always plan for melatonin treatment on the return home as well as on arrival at your destination. Normally around 3 nights treatment on arrival and when you return home is enough to help you adjust to your new time zone.
Unlike some other ‘sleep’ medicines, Circadin (melatonin) does not tend to cause any residual tiredness or grogginess in the morning, know as a ‘hangover effect’. This is because it does not depress your central nervous system like other hypnotic drugs and sleeping tablets. It is not advisable to use traditional sleeping medicines to treat jet lag due to the artificial sleep they induce, which can make jet lag worse.
You should not chew or crush Circadin tablets. They are prolonged release formulations that need to be swallowed whole to be effective. The prolonged release profile of Circadin tablets ensures they release melatonin throughout the night, mimicking the body’s natural pattern to produce good quality sleep.
If you do experience side effects from Circadin (Melatonin) they may include headache, sore throat, nausea, diarrhoea, and stomach or back pain. Please read the Patient Information Leaflet enclosed with your medicines for a full list of side effects.
If you experience any adverse effects from taking Circadin it is important to let us know immediately. Please log in to your online account and message one of our healthcare professionals or alternatively call us on 0117 332 69 90. In a medical emergency you should contact the emergency services or go straight to your local Accident & Emergency.
Circadin should not cause a harmful interaction with any of your other current medicines. Melatonin should not be taken if you currently take benzodiazepinescarbamazepine, cimetidine, fluvoxamine, imipramine, methoxypsoralen, rifampicin, thioridazine, zapelon, zolpidem, and zopiclone. This will also be checked during your online consultation. Please read the Patient Information Leaflet enclosed with your medicines for further information.
Melatonin causes drowsiness. You should not drive or operate machinery whilst you experience these effects.
Circadin is not 100% effective at preventing jet lag however it has been show to help with the symptoms of jet lag, particularly where there is a large change in time zones and if the traveller has flown east.
About Jet Lag
THE Medical Online Doctor service allows travellers who are worried about the effects of jet lag on their trip to have a private consultation with a doctor and receive the treatment they require in a safe and discreet manner.
Jet lag is a condition that affects the body when travelling over long distances and crossing several time zones. It is caused when the body struggles to adjust to the new time zone. It can produce a number of distressing symptoms, ranging from sleep disruption and feelings of tiredness to nausea and diarrhoea.
The body has an internal biological clock that regulates your daily routine. This is known as the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is sensitive to night and day, regular eating habits, sleep patterns, body temperature, and digestion. When travelling over multiple time zones this natural body clock can be disrupted, leaving the circadian rhythm out of sync and needing to adjust. When the body struggles to adjust, jet lag occurs. The risk of developing jet lag can be increased or exacerbated by; dehydration, drinking alcohol or caffeine during a long flight, sleep deprivation, stress and being over 60 years of age.
It is more common to suffer from jet lag when travelling east opposed to travelling west. When travelling east the body will need to adapt to a shorter day. Travelling west creates a longer day. Most people find it easier to stay awake for a few extra hours to adapt to the longer day than they would having to force themselves to sleep when encountering the shorter day.
The severity of the jet lag symptoms will be dependent on the distance travelled and the number of time zones crossed. Most people find that you need to cross at least three time zones before experiencing the symptoms of jet lag. The degree of suffering will vary from person to person with the most common symptoms being sleep disturbance. Sufferers may encounter difficulty adjusting to new time zones. For example, it may be day time in the new time zone but your body clock hasn’t adjusted and feels like it needs to sleep. Alternatively, it may be night time in the new time zone, yet you find yourself feeling wide awake and unable to sleep. Other jet lag symptoms include:
- Indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea
- Headaches, nausea and loss of appetite
- Anxiety and irritability
- Feelings of disorientation, lethargy and light-headedness
- Feeling confused
- Difficulty concentrating and clumsiness
Jet lag doesn’t require diagnosis by a doctor. It can be self-diagnosed based on the symptoms and your past experiences with long-haul travel.
Most people have experienced jet lag at some point in their lives. It can leave you feeling tired, groggy, confused, and lethargic when travelling between time zones. Although it usually resolves after 2 – 3 days, it leaves the potential to ruin the start of a holiday or leave you ineffective on a big business trip.
There are several things you can do which will help reduce the effect of jet lag. This ranges from prescription medicines to simply lifestyle techniques, all designed to help your body’s circadian rhythm adjust to the new time zone.
Melatonin is a hormone released by the body to let the brain know it’s time for sleep. The release is triggered by a lack of daylight and is designed to prepare the body for sleep. The body stops producing melatonin when natural daylight returns. The cessation of melatonin release will help the body to wake up.
If your circadian rhythm has been disrupted by jet lag then it can interfere with the normal release of this hormone. Melatonin is available in tablet form and can be effectively used to treat jet lag. A branded form of Melatonin called, Circadin 2mg Tablets, is available to buy from THE Medical Online Doctor. When Circadin is taken correctly it can help adjust the body’s circadian rhythm to that of the new time zone. Usually one Circadin 2mg tablet is taken at night, about an hour before going to bed. It should be used between two to four nights upon arriving in the new time zone. Circadin is only recommended as a suitable treatment should your destination’s time zone be more than three hours different from the UK. Non-medicinal techniques that can be adopted to help treat jet lag include:
- Avoid napping when you reach your new destination. It’s important to remain active until you reach the correct time for sleep in your new time zone.
- Spend time outdoors, exposed to natural sunlight. This will help your body adjust to the new time zone.
- Change you eating habits to correspond with your new time zone.
Some people find that using the tips above will sufficiently ease jet lag, however others may still require further assistance to overcome the problem. Travellers may be tempted to take traditional sleeping tablets; this is not advisable as often the sleep produced by sleeping tablets is not natural and can have a ‘hangover’ effect in the morning. This can work to worsen the effects of jet lag.
Jet lag isn’t something that can be prevented. However, there are steps you can take that will help reduce its effects. These steps can be taken before travelling and during your flight.
- Changing your sleeping routine a few days before travelling. This will help your body clock to adapt. If travelling west then go to bed an hour later than normal. If travelling east, attempt to go to sleep an hour earlier to your normal bed time.
- Ensure you get enough sleep before travel
- Try to stay calm and relaxed. Reducing stress and staying calm will help reduce the effects of jet lag
During your flight:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. This is important before, during and after the flight.
- Limit your caffeine intake, especially a few hours before attempting to sleep. Caffeine acts as a stimulant and can hinder sleep.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol can both dehydrate you and worsen the symptoms of jet lag.
- Stay active on long flights. Ensure you take regular walks around the cabin and stretch your arms and legs regularly while you are seated.
- Adjust your watch to read your destination’s time. This can help trick your brain into adjusting to your new time zone.
- Attempt to get some sleep if it’s night time in your new time zone. This can be difficult if it’s not your natural time to sleep. Using earplugs and eye masks can help.
A Brief Guide To Jet Lag
What is jet lag?
We experience jet lag when we travel through different time zones on long flights and our body's ‘clock’ can’t keep up with the change in time zones. As our ‘body clock’ is controlled by hormones that are slow to react to changes, a quick change in time zones, such as from a long haul flight, results in you still running at the time of your previous location for a number of days until your body adapts. This can leave you awake at unsociable hours and tired during the day; this can cause problems, especially on business trips.
How does jet lag affect us?
Scientists tell us that jet lag is caused due to disruptions in our body’s circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the physical, mental and behavioural changes we experience during the length of a day (24 hours) as our body reacts to changes in light and darkness in our environment. Circadian rhythms play a very significant role in determining our sleep patterns. When our body’s circadian rhythms are disrupted, we experience various psychological and physiological effects like fatigue, irritability, etc.
Jet lag is caused by your body struggling to reset its ‘clock’, know as the circadian rhythm. Travelling quickly across time zones means that your body struggles to adapt to the new hours of light and dark, leaving the hormones that control your circadian rhythm out of sync. This can be particularly problematic when flying East as this means you must adapt to a shorter day, something your body finds particularly hard.
Common symptoms of jet lag may include trouble falling asleep, early waking up, interrupted sleep, headaches, fatigue, trouble in passing bowel movements and reduced appetite.
Do we always experience the same amount of jet lag?
We don’t always experience the same amount of jet lag. Jet lag is worse when you are travelling from west to east than east to west. According to studies, when you fly east, the time it takes for you to recover from jet lag (in days) is roughly two-thirds of the number of time zones you cross. If you cross six time zones, you should take 4 days to recover from jet lag. But if you are flying west, the time taken to recover from jet lag (in days) is half the number of time zones you cross, which means that if you are crossing six time zones, you will recover in 3 days.
What is Melatonin and how does it help reduce jet lag?
Melatonin is a hormone that plays a significant role in regulating bodily rhythms and is used as a drug to realign people with the difference in time zones. Melatonin is available from THE Medical Online Doctor to fight the symptoms of jet lag and allow your body to adjust to external time. Taking melatonin close to the target bedtime at your destination (10pm to midnight), decreases jet lag. Melatonin is recommended for short term use if you are travelling across multiple time zones. It is advisable to take melatonin after dark on the day you travel and at the same time for a few days after arriving at your destination if you are travelling westward. If you are travelling eastward, it is recommended that you take melatonin in the evening for a few days before flying out. The time at which you take melatonin every day has to be consistent because any delay can cause disruptions in how quickly your circadian rhythms adjust with and adapt to external time.
Does Melatonin have any side effects?
Melatonin’s side effects for long-term use have not been established yet. If you are on blood-thinning medication, you should seek medical advice before taking melatonin.
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