Melatonin and Kids: Is It Safe?
Little Yawn Collective - Dec 28, 2021
Your little one's lack of quality shut-eye is beginning to take a major toll on their performance at school—not to mention their attitude at home.
You've tried to establish a consistent bedtime routine to no avail. You are half-crazy with sleep deprivation yourself tending to your sleepless child and can't help but wonder if you'll ever meet the Sandman for that oh-so-glorious sleep ever again.
According to the experts over at the American Academy of Pediatrics, 15 to 25 percent of children experience trouble with sleep. In other words—you're not alone.
For many parents, getting their kiddos to hit the hay is a bedtime battle every single night. It's a struggle that often comes with a whole lot of stress, tension, and frustration. You love to sleep. You crave sleep. How in the world can your kid want nothing to do with it?
If you've tried just about everything in the book to help your little one settle and drift off to dreamland, chances are you're starting to get a bit desperate. And we don't blame you—swollen eyes and dark circles aren't exactly a cute look.
But it's not just your appearance that's succumbing to the back-to-back sleepless nights, it's your cognition, too. From dealing with brain fog at the office to fighting the urge to close your peepers at the wheel—the struggle is real.
That being said, when sleep starts to turn into a distant dream, it's not uncommon for sleep-deprived parents to consider giving their child melatonin—but is it safe?
In this post, we'll tell you everything you need to know about the popular sleep aid, including what the experts say about giving it to children. We'll also share a few tips and tricks to help summon the sleepies sooner rather than later.
Sweet dreams ahead!
Why Won’t My Child Sleep?
Exhaustion is undoubtedly part of parenting—you knew this from the get-go. But you're way past the infamous sleepless nights that certainly tested your patience in the first year of your little buddy's life.
You've been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. So, what gives?
Well, believe it or not, there are actually quite a few reasons why your "big kid" won't sleep. Here are some of them.
Lack of a Bedtime Routine
In a perfect world, all kids would be on a sleep schedule throughout the week, month, and year—to bed at the same time, rise at the same time, all year round.
But for the school-aged sprout, staying up late during the long days of summer is common, causing any kind of bedtime routine to go right out the window.
Bedtime routines are a consistent, repetitive set of activities carried out before bed every night. They help prepare children for sleep by having them relax and wind down, and they also give kids a sense of security while teaching them how to drift off to la-la land on their own.
If your little buddy is struggling to hit the hay, a lack of a consistent bedtime routine could be to blame. Whether you've never had one or you didn't enforce it during the summer, it's not too late to create one or get back on track.
And it doesn't have to be super elaborate. For instance, each night, your kiddo can take a warm bath with Soothing Shampoo and Body Wash, brush their teeth, snuggle up to a story, and then lights out.
Just remember, consistency is key!
Kids these days love their screen time. Phones, TVs, computers, video games, and tablets can be irresistible. But did you know that these beloved electronic devices emit blue light through their screens which prevents sleepiness?
Yup, it's true—constant overexposure to blue light, especially before bedtime, can confuse your kiddo's noggin and disrupt their natural body clock.
Stress and Tension
Whether your little one is worried due to an upcoming school presentation or just the thought of being away from you during the night stresses them out—stress can certainly prevent sleep.
To help soothe their worries and send their troubles packing, we recommended doing what you can to relax them.
Try a warm bath using our Soothing Shampoo and Body Wash with Calendula. This dreamy formula is infused with our signature NaturalSnooze fragrance featuring lovely scents proven to create an environment that helps with falling asleep and staying asleep.
You can also spritz our Relaxing Pillow and Linen Spray directly onto your little buddy's bedding or room to help them wind down and find calm.
What Is Melatonin?
Simply put, melatonin is a hormone naturally released by our brains to help us fall asleep. It helps regulate the circadian clocks that control the sleep/wake cycles and virtually every function of the body.
Stimulated by darkness, the sleep hormone is normally released in the evening as the sun goes down. In the morning and during the day, it's largely shut off.
Melatonin supplements—which contain synthetic melatonin—mimic the effects of the melatonin we produce naturally.
Can Melatonin Help My Child Fall Asleep?
What makes melatonin supplements so appealing is that they will help most kiddos fall asleep.
The problem, however, is that it won't help a kid who often battles bedtime learn good sleep habits. It also won't stop your little buddy from waking up in the middle of the night with scary dreams or having to pee, and it probably won't stop your early riser from hopping out of bed ready to start the day at 4 a.m.
If you're searching for effective solutions to those common kid's sleep issues, you'll have to look further than a pill. Despite it appearing to be magic—it's not.
Is Melatonin Safe for Children?
For melatonin supplements, particularly at doses higher than what the body normally produces, there’s not enough information yet about possible side effects to have a clear picture of overall safety
There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding melatonin, especially its effects over long periods of time. Additionally, it is important to note that the FDA does not approve melatonin as a drug.
This means that some melatonin supplements may not contain exactly what's listed on the product label—which is quite scary when thinking about it! For the same reasons, such as uncertainty and lack of efficient data, claims for melatonin are not approved by the FDA. Moreover, many European countries classify melatonin as drugs for adult-use only. In fact, countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and most recently, Canada regulate melatonin as prescription use only.
That being said, if you're going to purchase melatonin to help your tiny tot snooze, pharmaceutical-grade melatonin is the safest way to go.
Here are a few more things to keep in mind.
In general, melatonin shouldn't be given to a growing sprout under the age of three as difficulties drifting off to dreamland in these babies are almost always behavioral in nature.
If your little one is struggling with sleep, create a relaxing baby bedtime routine with a warm bath, soothing massage, and a snuggly bedtime story to help your child wind down and fall asleep for the night.
For adults, melatonin doses range from 0.5 milligrams to 5 milligrams, taken about an hour before hitting the hay.
As for kids, you'll need to speak with your pediatrician as there's no standardized melatonin dosage chart by age or weight in the United States. There are also no set guidelines for what time or how frequently kids should take the synthetic hormone.
Needless to say, there are better alternatives to give your little one.
What Are the Side Effects of Melatonin?
While more research is needed, studies seem to suggest that melatonin supplements might be generally safe for kids, they can cause some icky side effects, so it's best to chat with your pediatrician prior to giving melatonin to your little buddy.
Some of the most common side effects include:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Head and neck tension
- Excessive sweating
- Tummy discomfort
Is There Anyone Who Shouldn’t Use Melatonin?
If you're thinking about trying melatonin to help your sleepless child catch some ZZZs, it's important to keep in mind that everyone's situation is different, and what works for your besties' kid may not work for yours.
With that in mind, there are some situations when melatonin should not be used.
Situational Sleep Troubles
Suppose your darling angel is experiencing sleep difficulty due to worries or something else that's causing them to feel stressed. In that case, melatonin is not recommended.
However, if stress and tension is the culprit behind the sleepless nights, giving your child melatonin won't help. But do you want to know what just might do the trick?
A snuggly pillow talk sesh where your little buddy can say whatever is on their mind and give their worries away. Listen to your child and let them know that everything is going to be A-OK!
Short-Term Sleep Troubles
Another situation where you wouldn't give melatonin to your kid is if their sleep challenges were due to something like an ear infection, for example.
Chances are your child is producing enough melatonin naturally, but due to boo-boos, ouchies, or aches, sleep simply isn't an option. Provide soothing comfort and if needed, talk to your pediatrician who can prescribe treatment to help your little buddy feel better.
Children Under Age Three
We touched on this a little earlier, but if your child is younger than three years old, avoid melatonin.
The melatonin we produce naturally works on a 24-hour schedule which helps tell the brain when it's time to snooze. Babies, however, work off a totally different sleep schedule that's regulated by their need to eat.
In other words, melatonin is not part of the baby's natural sleep cycle, and giving it to them would counter their normal physiology and body clock.
So, is melatonin safe for kids?
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved melatonin for use in kids struggling with sleep.
That being said, melatonin supplements are a bit mysterious, with very limited research backing them—especially for kids and long-term use. There's no standardized melatonin dosage chart for children, and it's not a supplement that the FDA found efficacious.
At the end of the day, if you'd like to experiment with melatonin, the decision is yours. However, a lack of knowledge on proper dosage, and effects should be more than enough reason not to give your kiddo the synthetic hormone without your pediatrician's OK and guidance.
Here at Little Yawn Collective, we know the bedtime struggle all too well. That's why we created safe, effective, melatonin-free sleep help—specifically made for little buddies like yours.
Masterfully crafted by experts and clinically tested and approved by pediatricians, each of our formulas includes high-quality, ethically sourced, and natural ingredients that are proven to work.
Whether you're trying to soothe your little one's worries or help them find calm, you can always count on Little Yawn Collective to bring on the ZZZs — naturally.
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