It can be quite difficult and tiring for parents when their kids have trouble going to sleep at night. To help their children fall asleep easier, some parents are turning to melatonin supplements as a form of sleep aid. While giving melatonin to kids may prove to be effective in the short term, there are still some lingering questions on whether its use is recommended. Here’s all you need to know before giving melatonin to your kids.
Melatonin is an over-the-counter supplement that can be purchased at pharmacies and drugstores without a prescription. Melatonin is naturally found in the body as a hormone secreted by the brain’s pineal gland to help regulate your internal clock. When it is dark, the body secretes more melatonin to help control your circadian rhythm and make you sleepy. Being exposed to light will limit melatonin secretion, which in turn makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Therefore, melatonin supplements, in addition to natural melatonin production, can create better conditions for sleeping.
If your kids are having trouble sleeping at night, melatonin supplements could be a useful remedy in the short term if taken in moderation. Studies have shown that melatonin may help children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorders benefit from improved sleep.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved melatonin for use in children with sleep disorders. As such, it is best to get a doctor’s approval before resorting to melatonin to help solve your kids’ sleep troubles. Until more research is done on the long-term effects of melatonin on children, it is best to limit usage and dosage as much as possible. While there hasn’t been enough evidence to suggest the supplements are harmful, kids taking melatonin may experience minor side effects such as nausea, headaches, and drowsiness in the morning. In addition, some experts are skeptical about the use of melatonin for kids, with concerns about the hormone affecting development in adolescents.
Therefore, melatonin supplements should only be administered to kids with sleeping difficulties after consulting a pediatrician. Also, it is important to note that melatonin should not be used as a substitute for healthy sleeping habits and a good bedtime routine. Turning off electronics before bed and keeping bedrooms dark are natural ways of helping your kids get more sleep without the need for supplements.