Melatonin is a hormone which occurs naturally and released by the pineal gland. Levels of melatonin will respond to the person’s natural circadian rhythms through increase in the late afternoon and early evening and by significant decrease at daytime.
Traditionally, it was thought that the normal production of melatonin will decrease during the adolescent period. However, recent study which measured the urinary metabolites of melatonin found out that the production will remain to be constant all throughout childhood and adolescent years. The alleged decrease was a consequence of stable levels within a bigger body mass. In reality, the production will remain constant much of our lifetime.
Melatonin is the one among the two hormones which sale is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration of America. Although this may not be available for purchase in a few countries like United Kingdom and Australia, this is being sold over-the-counter in America. There may only be few well-controlled studies which have appropriate dosing that includes the amount and timing, have examined safety, the use in special populations like children and elderly and its side effects and interactions with other products despite the fact that there is an enormous amount of anecdotal information that is available. But the few published studies which have scrutinized at the use of melatonin in children have found out in general that the product is safe. But a good number of these studies have focused on the use in children who are suffering from neurodevelopmental disabilities.
A certain study composed of 20 children suffering from developmental disabilities found out that children who were given melatonin will fall asleep significantly faster. They were not able to experience also longer sleep durations in general or would wake up less frequently. Another slightly bigger study composed of 46 children suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders discovered that sleep has improved in 34 children and so far, there are no side effects being experienced. Very few studies have checked out the use of melatonin in children with no disability. For instance, during a study of 40 grade school children with no neurologic problems but were experiencing delayed sleep onset found out that during the duration of the month long study, melatonin has proven to be safe and considerably more effective than in placebo in improving the onset of sleep and to increase sleep. Take note that the tests which examined the attention span of these children found out that even if sleep has improved, the measures of attention did not change.