Every parent has heard another parent casually recommend giving melatonin to their child to help them fall asleep. Some parents use it on a regular basis and others may have used it once for something like an airplane ride. For many parents, they wonder how safe it is to take melatonin since it is a natural product. There are many factors that play into if melatonin is appropriate to introduce to a child.
Knowing What Melatonin Is
Melatonin is a natural occurring hormone that comes from the pineal gland. Once it is released into your system, it helps calm your body and mind so that you can settle for bed. On the other end of the spectrum, we have cortisol. Cortisol gets us up and ready. These two hormones work together, rising and dropping opposite of each other, to create our “body clock.”
Melatonin begins to be produced when your body starts processing the shift to night time. This can be triggered by dimming of lights, closing blinds and curtains, and turning screens off. The melatonin production can be suppressed by exposure to lights, natural and artificial like from screens.
Should I Give My Child Melatonin
This is a loaded question that can vary from situation to situation. Most likely though, the answer will be no. If your child has a diagnosed sleep disorder then you will absolutely want to follow their pediatrician’s instructions.
Melatonin is naturally produced so introducing extra to the system can have side effects. Some of the potential side effects are excessive sweatings, abdominal pain, nausea, drowsiness, affected eye sight, and more. It is also known to be linked to impacts on sexual development, puberty and growth. When you supplement with synthetic melatonin, your body’s natural production decreases and in some severe cases even stops.
What Can I Do Instead Of Using Synthetic Melatonin
One of the first things you should reevaluate is your child’s bedtime routine and environment. Make sure you are setting them up for success by limiting screen exposure prior to bedtime, making sure the room is dark, and allowing them to have time to relax before they need to be asleep. Sleeping is a habit that you can train yourself to do in a healthy manner. Help your child by training them into healthy sleep habits. It may take time but it is worth it for their overall health. If you are struggling to set boundaries to foster this, reach out to us! We are happy to help guide your family towards quality sleep.