Is melatonin safe for kids? There is no definitive answer to this question as the research on the subject is inconclusive. Some studies suggest that melatonin is safe for children, while others caution against its use. Whether or not to give your child melatonin should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin, sold over the counter at medicine and health food shops, is a synthetic version of a hormone our brains naturally make to help us sleep. Our melatonin aids in the regulation of the circadian clocks that govern not just our sleep/wake cycles but also almost every other bodily function.
Melatonin is generally released in the evening due to the presence of darkness. It’s mostly turned off in the morning and throughout the day.
The effects of synthetic melatonin are similar to those of our natural melatonin. When taken in greater dosages (3 or 5 mg) immediately before bedtime, it has a “hypnotic” (sleepiness-inducing) impact.
When given in much lower doses (12 mg) earlier in the evening, it has a “chronobiotic” (shifts the body’s circadian rhythms so that sleep happens earlier) effect. A bedtime dosage is usually suggested for children who have difficulties falling asleep.
According to research, synthetic melatonin does not interfere with the body’s natural hormone synthesis.
What you see may not be what you receive when it comes to melatonin. Recent research evaluated the quantity of melatonin in 31 different brands and discovered a large level of variance from the melatonin content given on the label, both considerably less than and significantly more than the claimed amount.
This heterogeneity was seen between brands and even from one lot to the next within the same brand. As a result, we highly advise using “pharmaceutical quality melatonin” to get consistent and dependable results (this can be found online).
You should also be aware that melatonin may be a secondary component in many non-sleep goods. Children’s “nighttime cough syrup” and “relaxation” beverages are two examples. Always double-check the label.
Can Melatonin Help My Child Sleep?
Studies have shown melatonin reduces the time it takes to fall asleep in children with insomnia, including those with ADHD, autism, and other neurodevelopmental problems. While melatonin may be an effective short-term remedy for sleep issues, children with neurodevelopmental abnormalities may benefit from longer-term usage in certain situations.
It should be noted that the “instant release” formulation does not assist with sleep problems (melatonin levels in the blood peak roughly 2 hours after administration). There is some indication that prolonged-release melatonin may aid with night awakenings in children. Still, there are significantly fewer studies to back this up, and the longer-release formulations need the capacity to swallow capsules.
Anxiety, restless legs symptoms (needing to move the legs before night, frequently linked with painful sensations in the legs), or a too-early bedtime are just a few reasons children may have difficulty falling asleep. Before using melatonin, have your physician perform a thorough examination to rule out any other possible reasons.
If, after a comprehensive evaluation, melatonin usage is suitable for a specific kid with insomnia, it should never be used as a “stand-alone” therapy. It should always be supported with behavioral therapies. These include postponing bedtime to better match the actual time of falling asleep, employing “check-ins” at night, and offering a positive reward for remaining in bed.
Paying attention to good sleep behaviors such as having consistent bedtime and waking time seven days a week and having a consistent nighttime ritual is also important. Melatonin, for example, will not benefit a youngster or adolescent who is using their electronic gadget just before bed. These light-emitting gadgets impede the body’s natural melatonin secretion.
Melatonin should not be administered to healthy, developing children under three since issues falling and staying asleep in young children are usually invariably behavioral.
Melatonin is also utilized to treat youths who have a circadian rhythm abnormality known as the “delayed sleep phase,” in which the natural fall asleep and waking times are significantly later than usual (by three hours or more) and interfere with regular daily activities. In addition to melatonin, management typically entails progressively changing the sleep cycle and minimizing light exposure in the evening with increasing light exposure in the morning. Asleep expert best does it.
Is Melatonin Safe for Kids?
The Food and Drug Administration has not authorized melatonin for use in children and adolescents with insomnia or other sleep disturbances. Some physicians, however, do suggest melatonin for children who have trouble sleeping. Melatonin use in youngsters is referred to as “off label,” or the use of a medicine for a purpose or group of persons other than what is officially approved.
Side Effects of Melatonin
Melatonin is generally safe for short-term usage, with minimal hazards. Some youngsters who use melatonin supplements, on the other hand, may have modest symptoms. Bedwetting, sleepiness, headaches, and agitation are some of the symptoms.
Currently, nothing is known about the long-term implications of melatonin consumption in children. Some specialists wonder whether melatonin, as a hormone, may influence other hormonal changes in teens. More study is needed better to understand the long-term effects of melatonin on children.
Is Melatonin Safe for Babies?
Melatonin is not advised for newborns. Melatonin levels are low in newborns three months and younger, and their circadian rhythms are still maturing. There is no long-term research on the use of melatonin in newborns.
Consult your physician if your baby is having trouble sleeping. They can assist you in determining potential reasons and developing a treatment strategy.
Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Melatonin?
Adults’ melatonin dosages vary from 0.5 to 5 milligrams, given approximately an hour before night.
Experts disagree on the proper melatonin dose for children. In the United States, there is no standardized melatonin dose table by age or weight.
Furthermore, there are no defined rules for when or how often children should take melatonin. Consult your physician to determine your kid’s appropriate melatonin dose and time.
When to Talk to Your Doctor About Melatonin
Sleep is critical for children for a variety of reasons. The body generates growth hormones, and repairs damaged tissue and muscle when sleeping. Appropriate sleep in children has been related to improved academic achievement.
Speak with your healthcare practitioner if your kid is having trouble falling asleep or getting enough sleep. They may assist in determining the source of sleep deprivation. Insomnia and delayed sleep-phase disorders are two common causes of sleep deprivation in children.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Proper sleep hygiene may also increase both the quality and amount of sleep. According to research, excellent sleep hygiene may eradicate juvenile insomnia in 50% of cases when melatonin is advised as a therapy. Sleep hygiene and melatonin are more beneficial than melatonin alone in improving sleep in children.
A regular bedtime ritual each night gives comfort to help your youngster go asleep. Soothing activities such as taking a bath, reading a book, or singing lullabies might be included in your nighttime ritual.
Experts also advise parents to restrict their children’s usage of devices in the hours leading up to sleep. The blue light emitted by electronics such as phones, tablets, televisions, and video game consoles might cause the commencement of natural melatonin secretion to be delayed.
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Why shouldn’t you give your child melatonin?
Some specialists advise against administering melatonin gummies to children and teenagers daily since melatonin is a hormone that might interfere with development or puberty.
How much melatonin is safe for kids?
Many youngsters may react to a small dosage (30 to 90 minutes before sleep) of 0.5 mg or 1 mg. Most children who benefit from melatonin, including those with ADHD, do not need more than 3 to 6 mg of melatonin per day.
Is melatonin OK for kids daily?
Melatonin has been a regularly prescribed supplement for certain youngsters who have difficulty falling asleep. Melatonin is a safe and natural sleep aid (even after long-term usage), effective (in most situations), and easily accessible (it even comes in gummies for children).
Can melatonin cause behavior problems?
Daytime drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches are melatonin’s most prevalent adverse effects. Abdominal discomfort, moderate anxiety, impatience, disorientation, and feelings of sadness are some of the less prevalent adverse effects.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, melatonin is generally safe for kids when used in short-term situations, such as adjusting to a new sleep schedule. However, as with any medication, it’s always best to speak with a pediatrician before giving it to a child. Thanks for reading!