I recently had a parent send me this article and was worried about the use of melatonin in her child that we as providers had recommended.
I am proud of her not only for reading and being aware that there may be risks, but also asking the tough question to her provider. I’m sure she isn’t the only parent that has had this question as more media comes out about melatonin.
First, lets ask the question why is your child having trouble sleeping? Do they have a TV going in their room? Have they been on stimulating electronic video games or ipads before bed (Blue light from screens can make melatonin go away)? Have they had a caffeinated beverage within last couple of hours before bed? Are they still up doing home work because they have too many activities going on or just a tough year of school? If you’ve said no to all these things, has your child been diagnosed with ADHD or some other medical issue that may induce insomnia?
Our ultimate goal as a provider is to help you address what issues may be causing the insomnia. We will suggest melatonin if we think you have addressed these issues or a medical issue that may be effecting sleep. Sometimes we may suggest a short term use as a training aid while addressing these above problems.
There are risks associated with any medicine or herbal supplement. Our job is to determine if the benefit outweighs the risk in your child’s situation. Some children are not good candidates for melatonin. Children with seizures or automimmune disorders should not take melatonin unless provider has specifically recommended in your child’s case.
So, here is what we want you to try first before considering the use of melatonin:
- Create a bedtime routine that includes least 15-30 minutes of calm, soothing activities
- Discourage television, exercise, computer and telephone use before bedtime. (Forty-three percent of American school-age kids have television sets in their bedrooms; the more TV kids watch, the less they sleep. Some sleep experts advise keeping televisions and computers out of children’s bedrooms
- Avoid beverages and foods containing caffeine
- promote exercise earlier in the day and healthy diet.
Please consult with us before you decide that melatonin may be a good choice. If you are giving your child melatonin, don’t use more than 5mg or give for more than a couple of months unless the provider tells you otherwise. Being a supplement, melatonin does not have FDA approval but look for a supplement with USP stamp of approval for better quality.
With that being said, there are many studies showing the efficacy of melatonin for use in children.
We do not promote lining your children up at night and dosing them all with melatonin to sleep but there are instances where we encourage to use of it. Please always ask for guidance.