Melatonin for Jet Lag and Epilepsy


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While the use of melatonin as a method of dealing with jet lag has become more widespread in recent years, there are a number of serious contraindications when it comes to the use of the drug. The use of melatonin is contraindicated to people suffering from epilepsy, and in this article we look at why this is.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is actually an umbrella term encompassing a number of different conditions, all of which share a key symptom in the onset of seizures of varying intensity. These seizures occur as a consequence of abnormalities or disruptions in the complex electrical signalling that goes on in our brain all the time.

A seizure can often be referred to as a fit or epileptic fit, and there are in fact a number of different types of seizure that can be experienced. These vary in their intensity and how they present, and in many cases they can pass undetected. Petit mal seizures for example, also known as absence seizures, simply involve a loss of awareness that presents as prolonged staring.  More well-known types of seizures can involve a series of involuntary muscular contractions (convulsions) of varying intensity. All of these are ultimately a consequence of abnormal electrical activity and can be the most obvious manifestation of epileptic conditions.

Epilepsy and Melatonin

Many epileptics suffer from sleep disorders which can affect a sufferer’s quality of life. Poor sleep can cause drowsiness, irritability, an inability to concentrate, and memory issues throughout the day, and in the past melatonin was prescribed as a solution to this sleeping disorder.

Melatonin is a hormone responsible for synchronising our body’s day night cycle, and levels of melatonin can indicate to our body’s workings whether or not we should be awake or asleep. The idea behind administering melatonin artificially is to help prepare the body for sleep, or where jet lag is concerned, help the body adjust its rhythms to a new day-night cycle when travelling across time zones.

Unfortunately attempts to use melatonin to help epileptics with their sleep patterns have revealed that artificial melatonin can increase the number of seizures an epileptic experiences. For this reason epileptics are not advised to take melatonin for jet lag.

In the UK melatonin is only available as a prescription medication, and as such, you will need to speak to your doctor before being able to make use of the drug. This means that if you are epileptic your doctor will likely advise you against making use of this particular form of treating jet lag. There are of course a number of alternatives which you can employ to help cope with jet lag even without melatonin.


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