Melatonin and Children’s Sleep

a toddler boy wearing a blue shirt laying on a tan couch pillow

Lack of sleep affects around 15-25% of children and adolescents. Your child’s lack of sleep can lead to health problems and even begin to affect her school performance. Because of this, parents are seeking out alternative methods to help their children get the sleep they need.

Good Sleeping Habits are Often the Best Medicine

Often, sleep issues in children resolve themselves and can usually be solved with good bedtime routines. The key to successful sleep routines is consistency. If your child is struggling to fall asleep, try these things first:

  1. Set a consistent bedtime: routine is key for children. Setting a bedtime will teach them that it is time to wind down and sleep.
  2. Turn off the screens: stop TV and electronic usage at least an hour before bed. Light from electronics can signal the body to halt the production of Melatonin. Turn off the screens to help your body produce Melatonin.
  3. Develop a bedtime routine: quiet play, baths, and brushing teeth in a set routine each night can help your kids know that sleep is approaching.

If you’ve tried these tactics and your child is still struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep, talk to your pediatrician about what you can do to help and if melatonin, a popular sleep-aid, is an appropriate method for your child.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It is often referred to as the “sleep hormone” as it assists the body in determining when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake up. This cycle, the circadian rhythm, is also called an internal clock. In the evening, Melatonin levels rise signaling to the body that it is time to sleep. Before it is time to wake up, Melatonin levels will drop.

Is Melatonin Safe for Kids?

Melatonin is sold as a sleep aid over the counters. Since it is not a medical drug, the dosing and instructions for use are not regulated by the FDA. If you are looking to use it as a sleep aid for your children, you should consult with your pediatrician first and make a decision together.

Additional Information:

How to Develop Bedtime Routines
American Academy of Pediatrics