If you could take a pill to manage your jet lag, would you?  Would it be worth the possibility of dealing with headaches, nausea, dizziness or insomnia as side effects?   Would you be willing to pay more than $9 per dose for this remedy?

Healthy travel takes more than packing a first aid kit and getting the destination-specific vaccinations that you need.  It also includes putting into practice some preventative measures that will keep the journey from wearing down your body and immune system.  This is particularly important if you are traveling overseas, as jet lag can leave your mind fighting to catch up with your body’s cycle the whole duration of your trip.

Now, pharmaceutical company, Cephalon, Frazer, PA, has submitted a jet lag solution to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval.  The drug is an existing product, Nuvigil, which is used to treat serious sleep disorders and requires a prescription.  According to a news release from Cephalon, this drug offers “improved wakefulness in patients with excessive sleepiness associated with jet lag disorder due to eastbound travel.”   The New York Times reports that clinical trials did show improved levels of wakefulness for those given Nuvigil and that Cephalon is only seeking approval for this as a solution for eastbound travelers because the adjustment for westbound travelers is generally easier.  

Those travelers who only occasionally take an overseas flight might fight the effects of jet lag by following the common practices of upping their post-flight caffeine intake and taking melatonin supplements.  Business travelers and others who frequently travel overseas, however, might see Nuvigil as a valuable traveling companion.  The FDA is expected to complete its review by March 29, 2010; stay tuned for updates.

Photo by Heart Industry http://www.flickr.com/photos/heartindustry/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

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  1. I don’t believe taking a drug is a good idea for a perfectly healthy person who has nothing wrong with them! Instead, I am sure a little knowledge and understanding can be far more effective a combating jet lag.

    The effects of jet lag will be influenced by the direction of travel (east or west), the time of departure and therefore, the time of arrival. I have heard some wierd and wonderful ways that people recommend to beat jet lag. But to me, it is quite straight forward. For example:

    – Try not to be awake for more than 16 hours in one stretch
    – Always sleep on the flight if it is time for you to sleep
    – If traveling west, on arrival, go to bed around 8 pm and take a melatonin tablet if you wake up later
    – If traveling east, on arrival, do exercise and lots of stuff to make yourself tired. I also take a bit more melatonin when traveling east. As a result, I never have trouble getting to sleep at my new time zone.

    Understanding your sleep wake/cycle, how to help it adjust and how it will make you feel when it is out of sync under different circumstances is half the battle.

    Also some people mistake sleep deprivation for jet lag, when, in fact, they are 2 different conditions. Sleep deprivation can be avoided by making sure you get enough sleep. Jet lag symtoms can be reduced by preparation for your journey.

    I part wrote a pdf download that explains this pretty well. You can download it free from an associates website at http://www.1jetlag.com.

    It explains circadian rythym, sleep/wake cycle adjustment, natural melatonin supplementation. How to sleep when you need to, that sort of stuff.

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