Melatonin Use in Children
Something I come across quite often in my line of work is parents giving their children melatonin to help them sleep.
First off, let me explain what Melatonin is. According to Healthline melatonin is “a natural hormone produced in the pineal gland of your brain. The purpose of this hormone is to help regulate your sleep cycles. When it gets dark, your brain produces more of this chemical, which helps you feel sleepy and prepare for bed.”
Many adults have found success using this non-habit-forming sleep aid and consider its usage safe because it is a naturally occurring hormone.
Now, let’s talk about Melatonin use in children. There are not many studies out there that look at the effects of melatonin use on children. The effects of long-term use are not known, and that is why it is not typically advised to give it to your children for a long duration of time.
Melatonin might help your child initially fall asleep, but it will not help them stay asleep. I would encourage you to look at the underlying reason why you are giving it to your child. Does your child have the skill of being able to fall asleep independently? If they do not know how to fall asleep independently, melatonin might help initially at bedtime, but it would not help with any overnight wake-ups. I encourage you to try and treat the underlying problem and teach your child the skill of falling asleep independently, it’s effects will be boundless and allow for your family to have healthy sleep habits.
In short, you can give melatonin to your child for small instances of sickness or bouts of travel. But it is not encouraged or recommended to give your child melatonin for an extended period of time since we do not know the long-term effects.
If you are unsure about melatonin use concerning your child, please be sure to talk with your pediatrician.