Ask the Doctor: Can Jet Lag Be Reduced in People with IH?

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Thanh Dang-Vu, MD PhDCan the effects of jet lag be reduced in people with IH? We are very honored to have Thanh Dang-Vu, MD, PhD, a neurologist at Concordia University in Montreal, and a distinguished member of our Medical Advisory Board, answer this question.

Are there any ways to reduce the impact of jet lag on people with idiopathic hypersomnia?

There are no specific ways to reduce the impact of jet lag in IH. The same advice as for the general population will apply:

  1. getting the maximum of light exposure during the daytime at your destination, particularly in the morning and early afternoon (if needed with light therapy);
  2. avoiding long naps and staying active during the day;
  3. regular timing of meals aligned with the time of destination, etc.

Pharmacological treatments include melatonin, which is effective at low dose (0.5mg), and can be started a few days before the trip in order to prepare the resetting of your internal clock at the time of destination. The time of intake will thus depend on the destination, with intake at bedtime when traveling east, and intake in the morning when traveling west. Hypnotic medications such as benzodiazepines and related medications may be used to facilitate sleep onset when sleep difficulties at night arise with the jet lag, but they should be taken only for a few nights and in individuals who do not usually report an excessive daytime sleepiness as these medications may increase sleepiness during the day. In patients with IH, in whom daytime sleepiness is high, regardless of the jet lag, the use of hypnotic medications is usually not indicated.

For more information about the jet lag and the ways to manage it, please consult the following websites:

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Disclaimer for Ask The Doctor: The medical information provided is meant for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care and advice. Each person is different, and questions about a personal health condition should be discussed with your own healthcare professional.

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