Melatonin For Kids - Uses, Side Effects And Dosage

Is Melatonin Safe For Kids

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For most kids, the biological patterns for sleep are different during the night and day. Though this is a normal human tendency, recent studies reveal that there exists an alternative pattern to sleeping and waking.

Most doctors try to regulate a kid’s sleeping pattern using melatonin supplements. But, what is melatonin, is it safe for kids, and how much is too much? Read our post and get the answers to the questions below. Here, we talk about melatonin for kids.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a natural hormone, which the pineal gland secretes. The gland is pea-shaped and is found right in the middle of the brain. The hormone is typically secreted during the night. The gland secretes melatonin, which eventually passes into the blood. At around 9 pm, the level of melatonin increases and the body begins to feel less alert, and it makes your kid drowsy.

Some call Melatonin the Dracula of Hormones as it only appears at night. Apart from sunlight, artificial indoor lighting is another factor that prevents the release of this hormone.

Is Melatonin Safe For Kids?

Studies suggest it is safe to use melatonin, and hence can be given to the kids without fear. But, before you consider including Melatonin supplements for your kids, here are some important points to remember:

  • If your kid cannot sleep, first try changing the behavioral strategies that can regulate better sleep.
  • Melatonin is often used for kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, developmental disabilities, and autism.
  • In kids, melatonin can be used to treat difficulty with sleep, it might be given to both kids who are developing and those who have developmental disabilities, visual impairment, or autism.

Side Effects Of Melatonin On Kids:

Now that we know that melatonin plays an important role in the sleep and wake cycle of an individual and the levels of this hormone is highest at night, it is important to know what a melatonin supplement can do to the body. Apart from being helpful in treating jet lag and other sleep-related disorders, it also reduces the time the body takes to fall asleep. The most common side effects of melatonin in kids include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Bed wetting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Dosage Of Melatonin For Kids:

The dosage of melatonin depends on the kid’s age, and your pediatrician will prescribe the dosage depending on the age. A younger kid needs less melatonin that an older kid. The amount of melatonin may vary from 0.5 mg to 6 mg, but not more than that. The most common preparation might be a 2mg preparation, as that is how much melatonin the normal body produces.

When using melatonin dose for kids, it must be given 30-60 minutes prior to sleep; initially you might want to try different timings to see which time suits your kid the best. You can also discuss the outcome with the pediatrician or the kid’s doctor.

[ Read: Insomnia In Children ]

Why Should You Give Your Kid Melatonin?

About 25% of the kids take a longer time to fall asleep. This is often referred to as sleep-onset-difficulty in medical terminology, it is also known as bedtime resistance. This condition can cause emotional and attention problems to the tired parents. It is observed that kids, who sleep well, do well academically and are also less likely to be overweight. They do not fall sick often. Melatonin is the key to regulating the kid’s natural clock and hence the only way to fix the sleep disorder problems.

Since melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone, kids usually feel sleepy 30 minutes before going to sleep. The trouble begins when the body does not produce this hormone and the sleep cycles get disturbed. So melatonin supplements help kids to reprogram their circadian rhythms.

Tricks To Help Produce Melatonin Naturally:

If you don’t wish to use supplements for your kid, consider using these simple tips and tricks to help him produce melatonin naturally:

  • Dim your house light at least 40 minutes prior to sleeping.
  • During these 40 minutes don’t ask your kids to perform any activities.
  • Make sure there is enough natural light entering the kid’s room in the morning.
  • Never let them use screens such as a PC, I-Pads, Mobiles, TV at bedtime.
  • Make sure they do not overdo the naps.
  • Find a bedtime routine that both you and your kids enjoy.
  • Make sure your kids have regular wake up and sleeping time so that the melatonin surge is synchronized.
  • Immediately address illness, anxiety, nutrition and other problems that might be preventing the kid from falling asleep.
  • Sleep is a skill that parents need to inculcate in their kids. It is important to teach them healthy sleep routines.
  • Explain to them that sleeping well would give them energy, attention and cheeriness throughout the day.

[ Read: How Much Sleep Do Kids Need ]

Why Is It Important To Consult A Doctor?

  • A sleeping disorder may not be due to a reduction or imbalance in melatonin, so it is important to sit with the kid and discuss why he doesn’t feel sleepy at night. Lifestyle changes can also have a dramatic effect on the sleeping pattern.
  • The big issue with regards to sleep disorder is the time they wake up during school days and the time they wake up during the weekends when they are not going to school. Lying in the bed till afternoon might affect the body’s circadian rhythm making it difficult for them to wake up on Monday.
  • Talk to the doctor and explain your kid’s sleeping pattern to him. Turn off all electronic devices at least 1 hour prior to sleep and you might notice a considerable difference in the sleeping pattern. Good sleep is vital for the overall well-being of the kid and can reduce the chances of health issues like diabetes, obesity and depression.

If you have tried these measures, you can consider giving melatonin dosage for children for her well-being and for keeping her stress free. Before starting the medication, ask the doctor for possible side effects, so that you prepare yourself and the kid beforehand.

Did you use melatonin for your kid? Share your experience with us. We would love to hear from you.

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