Melatonin to Help Children Sleep?
This melatonin subject comes up almost daily in my business so….I’m baaaack with more reasons why we should NOT use this to “help” our children sleep.
I’ve always been fascinated with natural, home remedies. I even have a best friend that calls me the “witch doctor”. LOL
I love the idea of not using a chemical to solve or mask a problem.
I’m also not all homeopathic or all pharmaceutical. Health decisions are something that should be carefully considered by each person with the help of a health professional (if needed).
If probiotics improve your gut health – I say go for it!
If you need blood pressure meds to lower your blood pressure – you should probably take that seriously.
However, we have to remember that anything and everything we put into our bodies, and our children’s bodies, should be looked into for its efficacy and side effects, which brings me to us having a quick chat about melatonin, again!
Some homeopathic experts have long touted melatonin as a natural, safe way of helping people sleep, and in some ways, that may be true. There’s also MUCH more to understand about it before you give it to your child or take it yourself.
So, what is it exactly?
Melatonin’s a hormone that’s secreted from the pineal gland, and it’s a signal to your body & mind that sleep is coming.
In the simplest of terms, it’s your brain’s way of drawing the curtains for the night. Cortisol does precisely the opposite in the morning and opens the curtains for the day. Melatonin & cortisol are a large part of our “body clock” (more on that later…).
Melatonin isn’t a traditional sleep aid. As Dr. Luis Buenaver, a sleep expert from Johns Hopkins explains it, “Your body produces melatonin naturally. It doesn’t make you sleep, but as melatonin levels rise in the evening it puts you into a state of quiet wakefulness that helps promote sleep.”
How do our bodies know to start producing melatonin?
Quite naturally, actually.
As it begins to get dark, the human body recognizes that it’s the onset of night time and gets the melatonin pumps up and running.
This worked like a dream for a few hundred thousand years, until the lightbulb, television, smartphone & laptop were invented!
In the modern world, our eyes are flooded with artificial light, and it can be challenging for our brains to determine when night is coming, and this can interfere with melatonin production in a big way. This can also mess up our body clocks and contribute to insomnia.
In some instances such as jet-lag, shift work, and the elderly, a melatonin supplement has been shown to reset our body clocks. However, it’s not a long-term solution to sleep issues for most people, especially children.
I always advise my clients to turn off their screens a few hours before bed, turn down the lights, and have a solid bedtime routine in place. You want to let your body know that sleep is coming and it’ll do the rest of the work for you.
Side note: This isn’t the case for diagnosed insomniacs or people with psychological or physical conditions that inhibit their sleep. They should consult their physician.
Now, when it comes to kids, all of this information still applies.
Newborns are a bit of an anomaly because they don’t start producing melatonin until about eight weeks. Until then, their sleep can be pretty erratic – as you know if you’ve ever had one!
Beyond eight weeks, a 24-hour light-dark sleep cycle is established, which they will have for the rest of their lives.
So, here’s the big question I get asked…. “Will giving my child melatonin help them sleep through the night?”
The truth? No, absolutely not.
It may, and I emphasize MAY, help them GET to sleep, but it will NOT help them stay asleep.
This isn’t just my opinion. The consensus among sleep specialists, doctors & researchers worldwide is the same.
The National Sleep Foundation has found that “…when scientists conduct tests to compare melatonin as a “sleeping pill” to a placebo (sugar pill) most studies show no benefit of melatonin.”
I think it’s important to be informed. And, melatonin is a hormone that can have serious side effects.
And here’s the good news. Kids and sleep go together like peas and carrots!
Infants & children need a LOT of sleep, and for a very short time in their lives, everything in their bodies is lined up to help them get it.
They do need some guidance and for us to step out of the way sometimes so they can learn how to get to sleep and stay asleep on their own.
Just like learning any other skill, it takes practice and time.
No pill can teach you, long division, how to play an instrument, or improve your golf game.
Sleep works in precisely the same way!
It’s a skill that can be, and once that happens, it comes naturally and effortlessly. Before you try a pill, try a predictable bedtime routine, shutting down electronics a few hours before bed, and encourage your children to fall asleep without outside forms of “help”.It’s
I can assure you, the results will far exceed anything you can get from a pill, and the results will last a lifetime.
Babies that sleep well become toddlers that sleep well.
Toddlers that sleep well become children that sleep well.
Children that sleep well become adults that sleep well.
And, that’s all worth a little effort if you ask me!
Want to know how easy it is to get your babies & children to fall asleep quickly at bedtime and stay asleep ALL night long without a dangerous medication?
We should talk.