A double-blind trial of melatoninnext term as a treatment for jet lag in international cabin crew

Biological Psychiatry

Volume 33, Issue 7, 1 April 1993, Pages 526-530


Keith Petriea, Alexander G. Dawsonb, Leonard Thompsonb and Richard Brookc


From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science, Auckland University Medical School, New Zealand


Medical Department, Air New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand


Statistics Department, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand




This study investigated the efficacy of oral melatonin in alleviating jet lag in flight crew after a series of international flights. The optimal time for taking melatonin in this group was also investigated. In a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, 52 international cabin crew were randomly assigned to three groups; early melatonin (5 mg started 3 days prior to arrival until 5 days after return home); late melatonin (placebo for 3 days then 5 mg melatonin for 5 days); and placebo. Daily ratings showed a trend in jet lag, mood, and sleepiness measures toward an improved recovery in the late melatonin group and a worse recovery in the early melatonin group as compared to placebo. Retrospective ratings made 6 days after arrival showed the late melatonin group reported significantly less jet lag and sleep disturbance following the flight compared to placebo. The late melatonin group also showed a significantly faster recovery of energy and alertness than the early melatonin group, which reported a worse overall recovery than placebo. These findings show melatonin may have potential benefits for international aircrew.


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