Sleep disorders are very common in children these days due to the advancement of technology, crammed schedules, poor nutrition, etc. Lack of sleep creates crankiness, irritability, forgetfulness, low motivation, and difficulty learning in kids. Long-term sleep disorders can turn into depression, anxiety and lead to obesity and Type 2 diabetes. It develops a poor foundation to construct your child’s health, behavior, academics, and life.
Consistent Sleep Schedule
The best thing to do is try to get your kids on a regular, consistent schedule to wake up, eat, and sleep. By doing this, you can avoid any interference when it comes to bedtime. The restriction and limitation of sugary and caffeine drinks, eating, and phones and computers, at a specific time, can program good sleeping habits. However, if you find the following tasks difficult for your child to adapt, then think about melatonin. It can help make your child relax and become sleepy and get your child into bed at a specific time. It is very effective at changing your child’s sleeping patterns back to normal.
Let me give you facts and information to decide if melatonin is right for your child and guide you in the proper direction. Learn about melatonin and if it’s safe for your child.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone made by our brains naturally. During the day in the light, melatonin is low and at night when it is dark, it increases. Melatonin starts to be produced and released when it gets dark and closer to sleeping time. Melatonin used as medicine is usually made synthetically in a laboratory.
What Does Melatonin Do?
Melatonin is not a sleeping pill. Think of it as helping your child to relax so they can drift into sleep easier. It induces and prepares them to sleep. Melatonin makes you feel relaxed and sleepier before bedtime.
Melatonin is beneficial for unrestful sleep, anxiety, excitement, sleeping problems, disorders, and patterns. I can vouch for this because it helps my daughter sleep. She is five years old, and she moves around a lot during the night. (And, if your child is moving around a lot, it is disrupting their sleep, making them very tired in the morning or challenging to get up.) Melatonin helps her body relax and get a more restful sleep. My daughter’s doctor recommended between 1-3mg. I started with a low dose first. I gave my daughter .3 milligrams. I broke a 1mg pill into four pieces and found that it was very suitable to induce relaxation for her. I dissolve a part of the pill in half an of a glass of water so she does not have to swallow a pill.
Children don’t need high dosages, and a dose as low as .3mg is very effective. If a low dose does not work, you can increase the amount little by little. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell how much to give your child from a chart. Just start low and see how they respond.
When you give your child melatonin, give it about 30 minutes before bedtime. You don’t need to give it to your child all the time. Give it to your child for about three nights in a row, and you will notice their sleeping patterns reset and be ready for bed at the hour they go to sleep. That is the great thing about melatonin. You can use it to jumpstart your child’s sleep program. And, when you notice they are getting rambunctious again, it is safe to start another 3-day cycle. Always talk to your child’s doctor first to rule out any contraindications about giving them melatonin.
When you give your child melatonin, be around them for support because they will get relaxed and drowsy. Your child’s eyes will get heavy. For my daughter, it works quickly, in about 15-20 minutes.
Melatonin is beneficial in helping kids who have ADHD, Down Syndrome, Autism, and anxiety.
Is Melatonin Safe?
The research says there are no negative side effects of melatonin for children or adults.
Sleeping Tips for Your Children
While giving melatonin, stick to a routine of good sleeping patterns. You still need to have rules rather than give it to your child for convenience every night. It is not about letting them play with electronics until they sleep and then provide them with a pill. You need to encourage and provide a pattern for your child to be consistent, to maintain good sleeping habits.
- Set regular times to sleep and wake to regulate and develop your child’s internal clock.
- Avoid phones and computers about 3 hours before bed. The bright light on their eyes reduces the release of melatonin and contributes to adrenaline release.
- Avoid food 3 hours before bedtime.
- Limit caffeine and sugar drinks until or before dinner or 5 pm.
If your child can fall asleep easily, then there is no need to give them melatonin.
Always talk to your doctor first about giving your child melatonin. Use it to reset their sleeping patterns but always try to develop a routine and structure for your child to get a good night’s sleep.