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If your child has been having trouble sleeping, you have probably been searching desperately for something that can help. Your pediatrician or a friend may have suggested melatonin, but this may leave you with many more questions. Is melatonin for children safe? How should melatonin for kids be dosed? What about side effects?

When is melatonin for children used?

Children can have a number of conditions that cause them to have trouble sleeping. Some common ones include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, disorders on the autism spectrum or more severe conditions like cerebral palsy. It has also been known to help visually impaired children. These conditions can interrupt the natural sleep patterns causing lack of sleep and irritability. Our bodies naturally produce the hormone melatonin but in some cases the levels may have decreased. Melatonin usually is produced in our bodies at nighttime and the levels drop during the day. Thus if your child’s sleep wake cycle is interrupted or impaired they will have difficulty sleeping. Melatonin should be given 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime and a quiet darkened environment will help in the aid of the supplement.

Is melatonin for kids safe?

The hormone melatonin is produced naturally by the body. It is responsible for setting the body’s inner clock. Its highest production in the body is at childhood, then tapers off in adolescence and is barely produced in the elderly. There are ways to test your child’s melatonin levels but you may need the advice of a naturopathic practitioner. There have not been noted in the medical community any extreme melatonin side effects that are harmful. The side effects of taking too much melatonin can be: headaches, dizziness, daytime grogginess, and nightmares. There has been very little written about children and test trials using melatonin. Mostly it is done through medical doctors who believe in natural medicines, naturopaths and personal trials done by individuals. It has been found you cannot overdose on melatonin yet it is a hormone and too much of any one thing in our bodies can be harmful; so use with care.

What makes melatonin effective?

People who suffer from chronic insomnia are thought to have low natural levels of melatonin. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland and this regulates our body’s sleep wake cycle. If your melatonin levels drop or are interrupted then the sleep wake cycle is interrupted causing insomnia.  Your child just may need melatonin supplements for a short while to get his/her sleep cycle back into its natural circadian rhythm.

Melatonin and children: dosages and forms

Melatonin dosages range from .05mg to 20mg. While there is no recommended dosage for melatonin that has been studied and approved by the FDA, there have been smaller trials using 3mg all the way up to 6mg for children. Melatonin is produced when darkness occurs so taking melatonin 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime is suggested. Start with a smaller dose and work up if you don’t see any results. Melatonin supplements come in pill and liquid form. The liquid can be more expensive and concentrated so adjust accordingly if using the liquid. It is also recommended to use a melatonin supplement from a reliable herbal company. There have been supplements that have been sold with contaminates found in them so be sure to check this out.  Additionally, melatonin can have interactions with medications so talk with your medical practitioner before taking melatonin.  Although the melatonin you purchase has been made synthetically in a lab, it can help supplement the body’s own natural levels, signaling to the body that it is time to sleep.