Why do children need melatonin? Studies have shown that most children have a higher level of melatonin production than do young adults and the elderly. However in the cases of children with mental illnesses who have interrupted sleep, melatonin may be a benefit. Melatonin comes from the pineal gland which is like a clock in our body that regulates the sleep cycle. If this cycle is interrupted due to lack of the hormone then lack of sleep is sure to follow. Nothing is more distressing than sleeplessness in children.
Melatonin is a hormone that causes our bodies to fall into its sleep cycle. Sometimes environmental disturbances can disrupt this sleep cycle and it needs help to get into rhythm again. In children there can be neurological disorders that cause sleeplessness. Studies have shown that children with ADHD, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, brain injuries and Autism have been helped with using melatonin for sleep. There have not been many scientific studies done using melatonin on children but there are some. Studies that have been done on children usually are focusing on children with neurological disorders.
Children that are not adversely affected by illness can be given melatonin for short periods of time to get through their sleeplessness. Usually the dose for these children is .03 mg up to 3mg. If your child has one of the disorders mentioned above it has been noted that up to 6mg of melatonin can be helpful. It is best to consult with your doctor concerning the correct dosage and if it will interfere with any drug the child may be taking. Melatonin comes in pill and liquid form. Most children prefer taking a liquid form of medicine than a pill form.
Are there side effects to taking melatonin for children?
The possible melatonin side effects on children can be; daytime grogginess, nightmares, irritability, stomach cramps and headaches. Although in the studies that have been done there have been very minimal side effects noted. The FDA does not have hard data facts on the effects of melatonin and children but there are those proponents out there that can tell you it has worked for them. Since melatonin is produced in our bodies naturally, small amounts taken orally should not be harmful to children. While there are no dosage recommendations per se for children, starting with a small dose of .03 and working up to a larger dose would depend on the results shown by each individual child.