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It's Only Natural
The pineal glands in our brains produce melatonin every day, and in the highest levels starting a few hours before we should start falling asleep. The chemical doesn’t put us to sleep on its own, but it puts our brains into a relaxed state that promotes sleep...if we let it. But according to John’s Hopkins, things like bright overhead lights can reduce its effects, and unfortunately, airports and airplanes prior to take off aren’t known for calm, sleep-inducing mood lighting.
You can hide from these waking triggers to some degree with things like sleep masks, but the fact is, walking through an airport, getting onto a loud airplane with hundreds of other people, and sitting bolt upright aren’t ideal conditions for sleeping, and the melatonin you produce naturally might not be enough to prime you for bedtime. Unfortunately, we can’t tell our brains to produce more melatonin for the times we really need it. But fortunately, we can add more to our blood stream with a simple supplement.
Anecdotally, my friends all seem to gravitate towards melatonin gummies, which are inexpensive and easy to purchase on Amazon, but I prefer equally-cheap melatonin capsules because they’re better suited for traveling. I always keep a contact lens case full of them in my dopp kit, but a travel cosmetics jar would work just as well.
If you’re boarding a red eye flight, you should aim to take a capsule about two hours before you want to get sleep, or about 90 minutes prior to your flight’s departure time, since there’s too much commotion in the first half hour of a flight to reasonably expect to doze off. Again, these aren’t sleeping pills, and they won’t knock you out cold, but they’re natural, non habit-forming, and inexpensive. They’re simply a supplement for what your body does to get to sleep every single day.
It Works For Jet Lag, Too
Beyond just helping you get shut-eye on a plane, melatonin supplements can help adjust your body clock to account for jet lag once you land. If you need to get to sleep at your destination earlier than your body would otherwise want to, just take a capsule a few hours before your new bed time. Or say you have an early morning flight, and need to get to bed earlier than usual to get enough sleep: just set a reminder to take a capsule a couple hours prior. A pill will never replace the usual jet lag cures like exercise, natural light, and proper hydration, but it can help those things culminate in what you really need, which is to get to sleep when you’re supposed to get to sleep.
Amazon Essentials Melatonin Supplements | $8 for 195 pills
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