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Review: oral melatonin reduces jet lag in air travellers

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QUESTION: In people who travel by air across several time zones, can oral melatonin prevent or treat jet lag?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, Medline, EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, and PsycLIT with the terms melatonin, jet-lag, jet lag, aviation, air travel, and airtravel. SciSearch was also accessed, 2 journals (Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine and Sleep from 1986–99) were hand searched, bibliographies of relevant studies were scanned, and authors of studies were contacted to identify further studies. Data and case reports of adverse effects of melatonin were also sought.

Study selection

Randomised controlled trials were selected if airline passengers, airline staff, or military personnel were studied; oral melatonin was compared with placebo or other medication; drugs were taken before, during, after, or a combination of times related to travel; and outcome data were provided.

Data extraction

Data were …

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  • Sources of funding: no external funding.

  • For correspondence: Dr A Herxheimer, UK Cochrane Centre, 9 Park Crescent, London N3 2NL, UK. Fax +44 (0)208 346 0407.A modified version of this abstract appears in ACP Journal Club.

  • A modified version of this abstract apears in ACP Journal Club.