Between 15% to 20% of children and adolescents, have trouble either falling or staying asleep. Being deprived of sleep can lead to instances as simple as behavior changes to more serious health problems like; irritableness, high blood pressure, weight instability, headaches, and even depression. Due to all of these negative effects, it is clear why parents are searching for help for their children.
More often than not, maintaining a good bedtime routine for your child, is beneficial. Each routine may vary from parent to parent and depend on how old the child is. What is important, is for the bedtime to occur every night, at the same time. This will help your child understand that it is time to wind down and get ready for bed. Note that bedtime routines do not happen overnight, they must be consistent so that your child’s body has adequate time to get used to the routine. If you feel like you have tried it all but your child still does not have a routine down, don’t give up! Be patient and continue to work on their routine, until they have it down. If you are unable to get your child on an efficient bedtime routine, consult their pediatrician and let them know about the challenges you and your child are facing to see if there are underlying reasons for your child’s sleeping difficulties.
Melatonin is a natural, hormone-like substance produced by an area in the brain called the pineal gland. It is naturally released in your body at night and lets it know its tired. Melatonin can be found on shelves in pharmacy’s or even health food stores, with no prescription needed. However, if you purchase melatonin over the counter, this means that it is notregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Due to this, be aware that melatonin is not a sleeping pill and any use of melatonin or other over the counter drugs, should be discussed with your child’s pediatrician before purchasing such product(s).
Melatonin can be a short-term way to help your child get that boost of extra sleep they need while still implementing bedtime routines. It may also be beneficial to use melatonin after long breaks from school, vacations or other possible interruptions. Melatonin can also help children with autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), etc. In these certain circumstances, the child’s melatonin intake should be monitored by their pediatrician.
Melatonin comes in a multitude of forms like; gummies, liquids, tablets, capsules, etc. which all have varying doses that can become confusing for parents to. To begin, start with the lowest dosage you can give them. Many children will respond well if they are given a low dose of 0.5 mg or 1 mg, 30 to 90 minutes before bed. In most cases, children do not need more than 3 to 6 mg of melatonin to get them to bed. Be sure to always ask your pediatrician what the right dosage for your child is and remember, melatonin is not a sleeping pill.
While studies have shown that giving melatonin to your children short term, is relatively safe, there is not much known about using melatonin long term. Some parents have concerns about how melatonin will affect their child’s growth and reproductive system. Studies have shown that morning drowsiness and urinating the bed at night, are possible side-effects of melatonin use. Further, be aware that melatonin may interact with other medicines your child takes.