by Mar De Carlo

What are the benefits or drawbacks to administering melatonin to kids and teens?

Melatonin may be beneficial to kids and teens experiencing sleep disorders as temporary supplement when used properly and approved by their doctor with the right dosage amount for their weight and age. However, melatonin is a hormone. It is not regulated by the FDA and in Europe prescriptions are required for it. Melatonin suppresses some hormones that regulate puberty and there has been research to suggest it can affect puberty, but we don’t have enough information about the long-term effects. The CDC has reported that the annual number of melatonin ingestions in children that were reported to U.S, poison control centers increased by 530% and unfortunately a large number of parents and child sleep consultants who are not aware of the serious harmful drawbacks treat melatonin like a quick fix to their children’s sleep problems. When you start changing one thing in your body there is a domino effect. There are so many health, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect sleep, like light, food and stress. And before implementing any kind of solution, it is vital to uncover the root cause of a sleep problem. Society likes to turn to a magic pill but nature doesn’t work that way. Melatonin should not be taken lightly. It is also not within the scope of practice of a sleep consultant to treat their clients even with over-the-counter supplements. They should always refer their clients out to their doctor for proper evaluation and treatment.

My organization, the International Parenting & Health Institute has been working very hard since 2012 to raise awareness to parents and sleep professionals about the importance of performing a proper and thorough evaluation for child sleep challenges before jumping to quick fix solutions or cookie cutter methods. There are so many forces that affect sleep and in order to get the root of the challenge we must first investigate the strongest forces that affect sleep in order to first rule those ’causes’ out. And in order to do this, a great number of details and information needs to be collected with regards the client’s, sleep habits, sleep hygiene, physical and mental health, lifestyle and environment. Just as Dr. M. Adeel Rishi, vice chair of the AASM Public Safety Committee, states. “Instead of turning to melatonin, parents should work on encouraging their children to develop good sleep habits, like setting a regular bedtime and wake time, having a bedtime routine, and limiting screen time as bedtime approaches.”

What should parents consider before using melatonin on their kids?

There are so many factors that influence our body’s ability to sleep that melatonin alone will not be the answer. Parents should analyze a great number of things before considering the use of melatonin such as:

4. What are some non-drug reliant practices that parents and kids/teens can use to help them sleep better?

There are many ways to increase melatonin production naturally while supporting your child’s optimal functioning for sleep that will not put them at potential risk for potential physiological or psychological issues.

Include melatonin rich foods in your child’s daily nutrition intake. The following foods a rich in melatonin, other vital nutrients and are also anti-inflammatory. (Please keep in mind if your child has a food sensitivity like eggs, nuts etc.):

Increase magnesium rich foods which helps the body to relax. Some research has also shown that magnesium, which is a vital mineral, supports melatonin production and sleep. Magnesium rich foods include. (Please keep in mind if your child has a food sensitivity like, nuts etc.):

Increase tryptophan rich foods. Tryptophan is a precursor to melatonin as well as to serotonin. The body uses tryptophan, an essential amino acid to help make melatonin and serotonin. Tryptophan rich foods include:

Additional non-drug reliant practices include:

Author: Admin