If there is one thing I want all parents to know, it is that Melatonin is not the answer. Over the last decade or so, melatonin has become extremely overprescribed, especially in children. So what is it, exactly? Melatonin is a hormone that’s secreted from the pineal gland that helps to settle your body and mind down when it’s time to sleep. In the simplest terms, melatonin is your brain’s way of drawing the curtains for the night. Cortisol is its counterpart, which opens them back up, and the two together make up a large part of what we call our “body clock”.
Developmentally speaking, children have higher amounts of melatonin than adults. The fact that taking more of this hormone is seen as an option well knowing that children are facing many more obstacles when it comes to sleep is really quite disturbing.
But the big question is: “Will giving my child melatonin help them sleep through the night?”
The answer is, “No it will not.”
It might help them GET to sleep at night, but it will not help them stay asleep. This is the general consensus of sleep specialists, researchers, and doctors worldwide. The National Sleep Foundation has found that, “...when scientists conduct tests to compare melatonin as a “sleeping pill” to a placebo (sugar pill) most studies show no benefit of melatonin.”
Melatonin is a hormone and can have serious side effects when taken long term.
Unless medical tests have specifically revealed a deficiency and or your child has a special needs diagnoses that requires it, then melatonin supplements is not the solution to your child’s sleep struggles.
I’ve worked with many parents who unfortunately turned to melatonin to correct sleep issues that weren’t medical to begin with. I’ve helped countless families wean off melatonin permanently and leaving them sleeping better then they ever have. If you find yourself in this boat, reach out to me anytime through email email@example.com or through my regular Q&A segment on Instagram @resteddarlings.
In the meantime some quick tips that always promotes good sleep:
Establish a predictable, consistent bedtime routine, that your child will enjoy.
Shut down the TVs and tablets a couple of hours before bed. Even dimming the lights an hour before routine begins will signal melatonin secretion.
Encouraging your child to fall asleep without other forms of outside help. Sleep dependency whatever the age, perpetuates night wakings which hinders quality sleep. I promise you, the results of establishing healthy sleep boundaries will be better than anything you’ll get from a pill, and they’ll last them a lifetime.
Be and Sleep well,
Your Sleep coach Daniella.