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Melatonin for Jet Lag?

Posted on November 23, 2019 | No Comments on Melatonin for Jet Lag?

Question: Can people with diabetes take melatonin for jet lag?

Answer: Before we even answer this question, we need to answer a few others. What is jet lag? What is melatonin? Is melatonin useful for jet lag? What is the relationship between melatonin and diabetes?

Jet lag is defined by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as a complaint of insomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness associated with transmeridian jet travel across at least two time zones. In addition to sleep disturbance, other symptoms include dysphoric mood, diminished physical performance, cognitive impairment, and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Melatonin is synthesized primarily in the pineal gland and enters the blood stream in a rhythmic manner with high levels at night time and low levels during daytime. Herxheimer & Petrie in their Cochrane review which included nine trials concluded that melatonin is remarkably effective in preventing or reducing jet lag, and occasional short-term use appears to be safe. Sack reviewed eleven double-blind, placebo-controlled trials and found that eight showed a significant benefit of melatonin for symptoms of jet lag as rated by the study participants.

Over the years, the understanding of the relationship between the pineal gland and glucose metabolism has changed. While melatonin secretion was shown to be reduced in diabetic animals, melatonin was also shown to inhibit insulin secretion. Whether this melatonin-insulin antagonism worsens glycemia or protects someone from developing type 2 diabetes mellitus and the ill-effects of hyperinsulinemia is a topic for further research.

There are melatonin receptors in the pancreatic beta cells. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) contribute to the destruction of pancreatic islets. Melatonin, on the other hand, detoxifies ROS and prevent this damage. Melatonin protects against alloxan and streptozocin, two compounds commonly used to induce type 1 diabetes mellitus, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, in animals.

Based on the above therefore I would say yes, people with diabetes can take melatonin for jet lag provided glycemic control is good. If glycemic control worsens, adjust anti-diabetes medications accordingly. Melatonin for jet lag should be taken for a short duration only.

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