Posted by Claudia Grazioso on October 14, 2011
I love that I have jetsetter friends. Because of them, I get to board overnight flights to Europe or red-eyes New York to make it in time for some red carpet event. I always arrive well-rested because right as the plane took flight, the Melatonin kicked in and ta da! Fresh as a daisy upon arrival.
Now, anyone who has ever (dared to) board an aircraft with small children knows that “fresh as a daisy” is not exactly the style you’re rocking when you deplane. But I can dream about what it’s like to sleep through a flight, can’t I?
Recently, a newly pregnant friend who is also a big traveler wondered how she would survive a flight without Melatonin. It has been years since she’s actually been awake through the drudgery of air travel. She also wondered if it was necessary to do without her favorite off-to-sleep remedy while preggers. I decided to look into it for her and though there doesn’t seem to be any really bad stories about melatonin and pregnancy out there, it’s probably not a bad thing to avoid for nine months.
Melatonin, also known as N-acetyl-5-methoxytriptamine, is a supplement used to treat insomnia, insomnia associated with ADHD, delayed sleep syndrome, and has even been used by people battling migraines, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is also frequently used to stave off the effects of jet lag and to help people re-set their internal sleeping clocks when they are traveling long distances. Melatonin is also considered to possibly be unsafe to take during pregnancy. It has been shown to sometimes effect hormone levels. Melatonin can increase, decrease or cause fluctuations in hormones like estradiol, progesterone and even thyroid hormones. Additionally, high levels of melatonin have been linked to an increase in developmental disorders. Many doctors also feel that not enough is known about Melatonin to feel that it is safe to take during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
This is, of course, bad news for my pregnant friend, but I gave her some advice: This may be your last time flying without an infant. Enjoy it. Grab some extra pretzels, pick up some junk magazines and download a good movie onto your iPad. And bon voyage!