In the UK melatonin is a prescription only medicine. This means to obtain genuine melatonin legally in the UK a prescription is required.
Prescription melatonin is available from Dr Fox. Prices are low and include the prescription for the melatonin. This is a UK pharmacy medicine supplied by a UK NHS pharmacy.
Melatonin in the UK
Pharmaceutical melatonin under the brand name of Circadin is available on prescription. It is licensed to treat insomnia, primarily in older people. It is used only in short courses of a few days.
Taking melatonin for Jet Lag is effective, although not a UK licensed use.
How does melatonin work for Jet Lag?
Melatonin can be taken in the evening at a destination to reduce the time taken to get to sleep. It is partially effective in triggering sleep in situations where the natural cycle is sleep is out of step with the environment.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced in predominantly in parts of the brain. The amount of the melatonin in the circulation varies depending on numerous factors. These factors include sun light levels, time of day, season of year and stress.
Melatonin plays a part in the pattern of sleep and wakefulness. It is also involved in the tanning of skin.
Symptoms of Jet Lag
Most people get some Jet Lag symptoms. People who are badly affected by Jet Lag find it almost impossible to sleep during the night when they arrive in a new time zone. They are often tired in the day, restless at night, hungry when nobody else is eating and not hungry when meals are prepared. People with Jet lag usually feel miserable.
Jet Lag symptoms are unpleasant and inconvenient rather than dangerous. Most people get over Jet Lag in a few days. It takes this long for the body clock to adjust to a new time zone.
Older people tend to get more Jet lag symptoms than younger people.
When does Jet lag occur?
Symptoms of jet lag occur more with flights travelling East rather than West. Three or more hours of time difference are usually required to trigger the problem.
How effective is melatonin?
Studies consistently show relief of symptoms. Institutions, including the military of some countries, provide melatonin to their members. See analysis of studies on melatonin.
Melatonin side effects
Melatonin side effects include unwanted drowsiness, particularly if taken in the day. Melatonin can have an additive effect when taken in combination with medications that by them selves cause sedation. This includes sleeping tablets, sedatives, some antidepressants and possibly herbal hypnotics.
Melatonin may affect alertness and have an affect on the ability to drive and operate machinery. See list of melatonin side effects in the Patient Information leaflet.
Circadin (Prescription melatonin) is taken in a dosage of one or two tablets daily in the evening for up to 5 days. Once the body adjusts to the new time zone the treatment with melatonin should be stopped.