Melatonin for Kids and Other Alternatives

| December 2, 2012 | 1 Comment

At one time, using melatonin for kids was as common as giving your child a chewy Flintstones multivitamin. However, times have changed. As more and more research has emerged, it is becoming strikingly obvious that melatonin is not the best sleep aid for children, and ideally, should be avoided.

The results of these new studies may make parents who had previously given their children melatonin scratch their heads, wondering if they would have caused their child any form of harm, unknowingly. Sadly, the answer is yes, since negative effects have been reported from use of this drug in children.

The common complaints range from;

Fatigue

Although this may sound contradictory, it actually occurs frequently when children do not get the amount of sleep they deserve. Consider this; a child normally needs between 9-15 hours of sleep nightly, but if they have an irregular sleep pattern, it is quite likely that they will fail to get enough. Now following consumption of melatonin, the body is signalled to induce sleep, which will ideally go unabated until the sleep deficit is paid off. The result? Oversleeping or a lazy first couple hours awake will start the morning off on the wrong foot.

Insomnia

Parents are frustrated out of their wits when they find out that the very thing they are using to cure/ treat sleeplessness is actually making it worse. This is commonly the trend with hormonal products. While they are very effective while being used, they also normally shut down the body’s natural production, leading to an absence of that particular hormone if one decides to cease using that drug. Melatonin taken in supplement form signals to the brain to stop production of it in the body, and can worsen insomnia following discontinuation of the drug, since chances are you do not want to give it to your child indefinitely.

Sleepwalking

The reasons for sleep walking in the whole are poorly understood; however, it may be attributed directly to the length of deep sleep. Since melatonin improves the quality of sleep, in one way by providing more recuperative deep wave sleep, the likelihood of sleepwalking occurring increases also. For a child, a bed outfitted with safety rails or bars may help to limit this occurrence.

Bed-Wetting

Bed wetting is another unwelcome addition parent’s encounter when trying melatonin for kids, but which normally subsides in a short time. Initially, melatonin leads to a suppression of night-time reflexes, since it provides deep sleep, and may make kids unaware that they have wet themselves until they wake up in the morning.

Seizures

Melatonin is a drug which may lower the seizure threshold in children, and becomes especially accumulative over time. Other neurological issues sometimes also accompany development of seizures lending support to a belief of changes in brain neurochemistry altogether.

So, the question you should be asking yourself as a parent now, is if it is worth all the potential risk for sleep, when other options are available? I’m pretty sure the answer will be a resounding no, so with that in mind let me show you some effective options for helping your young one sleep tight.

Sleep in Darkness

To some children, sleeping in darkness is synonymous with the boogie-man, and as you might guess, they urge a parent to leave on their light. The natural production of melatonin is inhibited by light, so this in itself is a reason why your child may not be getting sleep (not the boogie man). Reassure your child that nothing is there or offer to leave the door partly open.

Wind Down

A child hot from bouncing around the room will most likely be reluctant to any effort at putting to sleep. Approximately an hour before the set bed time, bathe your child in a warm bath, give feed or a meal, and read to them or sing a nursery rhyme. When your child sees the pattern of calm developing on a nightly basis, they will welcome it as children like to be in a fixed routine.

When these options fail to work, sometimes you may consult your paediatrician in hopes that he can recommend something for you. However, opinions are divided as to whether sleep aids should be prescribed for children, which many parents on the fence in their approval. Regardless, medications do have some role in treating sleeplessness, especially in children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or autism. The drugs prescribed sometimes may include;

Antihistamines

These drugs are the most frequently prescribed for childhood sleep issues throughout the world, with many available freely over the counter without a prescription. While a couple are contraindicated in children less than 2 years of age, they are effective and relatively safe is causing drowsiness to ensue with the desire to sleep. Antihistamines may play an added role in treating children with asthma, since the airway obstruction which prevents sleep will also be alleviated to a degree.

Benzodiazepines

These are very strong drugs which are indicated primarily to relieve anxiety associated insomnia. They are not sleep drugs per se, but assist the individual to relax and achieve a state ready for sleep. They are rarely used in children because of their narrow therapeutic window (range between a safe and dangerous dose), and when they are, the dose needs to be calculated based on that child’s individual bodyweight, not solely age.

Anti-Hypertensives

Strangely enough, these drugs indirectly help children to get sleep that suffer from ADHD. These children commonly have higher blood pressures than kids of corresponding age groups, and commonly experience issues related to sleep. By reducing the blood pressure, many sleep related issues resolve and rest improves.

Herbal Medications

Strangely enough, quite a few parents who have tried natural sleep remedies may have given their children an herbal sedative without knowing it. Not to say that they are dangerous or bad, but without a working knowledge of what your child is taking, bad things can happen. The most commonly used herbal sleep aids are chamomile, kava and valerian root. They have all been tested and are effective, though not approved by the FDA.

Try these strategies and make your conclusions, because when it boils down to it, there are better things to use than melatonin for kids.

 

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Category: Melatonin

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  1. Jo says:

    Pumpkin seeds would have the right effect, without the side effects of the supplements.

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