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  • Writer's pictureDr. Nilong Vyas

WHAT IS MELATONIN? The Sleep Periodical Volume 4 | Issue 4

Updated: Jun 7

I was highlighted in several news articles discussing the results of a recent survey, which revealed that up to 79% of parents give their children medication to aid sleep.

Kid Sleeping without using sleep aid.

Parents are desperate, tired, and juggling so many things; a child having difficulty sleeping adds to that.

Ideally, bedtime behaviors should be changed and modified so that a child can learn to fall asleep independently without the need for supplements.


But isn't melatonin considered safe?

Melatonin medicine

Melatonin has been extensively researched for use in neuro-diverse children, those with circadian rhythm disorders, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and jet lag. There is a place for using melatonin to get kids back on track. The worry is using it long-term, especially in those kids who have sleep-onset associations, as opposed to instilling beneficial sleep habits.

Imagine a child needs melatonin to sleep every night and how that may impact their natural melatonin production in the long term.

More research is being conducted on its long-term safety. And, because melatonin supplements are not regulated, the dosing can vary from supplement to supplement.

Melatonin is regulated in the body via a feedback loop, so if the body identifies that it is present in the system because it's being given orally, it decreases its own natural production. That is why you may find that it stops working after a while or that more medication needs to be given over time.

Plus, melatonin can have a paradoxical reaction, meaning many kids who take it or another sleep aid can wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. and be unable to return to sleep until it’s almost time to wake for the morning.


Ways to avoid medicinal sleep aids

Parents are not at fault, as they often find themselves in a difficult situation. These supplements are readily available over the counter and claim to help children sleep.

The pattern of giving medication because it initially works and feeling desperate continues. Breaking sleep association habits requires effort but is achievable. Doing so establishes healthy sleep habits for your children that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Click here below to read the full article.

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