Melatonin For Children

Melatonin has been investigated under several research studies, however there are very few studies that are based on children. Some studies that are conducted on a few children, yielded that it is a safe way of promoting sleep in kids. Most of the studies are based on kids who suffers from neurological disorders. Autistic children and those with ADHD have difficulty falling asleep and in such conditions melatonin can be very helpful. Melatonin works because the production of this hormone is less and sometimes totally absent in kids that suffer ADHD, autistism and visually impaired. Most doctors and sleep specialists do not prescribe melatonin pills for healthy children because there have been little research about the long term side effects of melatonin on healthy children.

Using melatonin for children appears to be safe as long as the frequency of use for melatonin is kept to no more than twice a week and the dosage is 0.5 mg or less. Additional research with melatonin and its effect on children will tell us if more frequent use and higher dosage is safe and effective.  Children will also experience the same melatonin side effects commonly experienced by adults taking melatonin. Parents who are considering to use melatonin on their kids, should first discuss this mater with the child’s pediatrician. The pediatrician can rule out other medical conditions that cause insomnia, like breathing difficulties or behavioral conditions like attention deficit disorder. Before giving your child melatonin, you should try changing the behavior of the child so that he/she can sleep easily. You can try limiting television before bedtime or cut down caffeine.

Reference: Melatonin improves health status and sleep in children with idiopathic chronic sleep-onset insomnia: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.  J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2003.

– A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in a Dutch sleep center, involving 62 children, 6 to 12 years of age, who suffered more than 1 year from idiopathic chronic sleep-onset insomnia. Patients received either 5 mg melatonin or placebo at 7 pm. Melatonin treatment significantly advanced sleep onset by 57 minutes, sleep offset by 9 minutes, and melatonin onset by 82 minutes, and decreased sleep latency by 17 minutes.

Melatonin References:

Claustrat, B., Brun, J., David, M., Sassolas, G., & Chazot, G. (1992).

Melatonin and Jet Lag: Confirmatory Result Using a Simplified Protocol. Biological Psychiatry, 32, 705-711.

Garfinkel, D., Laudon, M., Nof, D., & Zisapel, N. (1995). Improvement of sleep quality in elderly people by controlled-release melatonin. The Lancet, 346, 541-543.

Jan, J. (1994). The Treatment of Sleep Disorders With Melatonin. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 36, 97-107.

Lino, A., Silvy, S., Condorelli, L., & Rusconi, A. (1993). Melatonin and Jet Lag: Treatment Schedule. Biological Psychiatry, 34, 587.

Zhdanova, I. (1995). Sleep – inducing effects of low doses of melatonin ingested in the evening. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 57, 552-558.

15 Responses to Melatonin For Children

  1. diannea says:

    my son is 3.5 years old and has such a hard time going to sleep and staying alseep his father and 2 brothers have adhd add and odd the doctors refusde to put my son on or try to give us any advice on where to turn for help. we recently found the meltonin and i am VERY concerned. my son also has outbreaks of physical abuse and tantrums and i am wondering if this will help even out the brain patterns .PLEASE SOMEONE HELP. THANK YOU

    • Vicki says:

      My daughter has had night terrors since age 3. They have decreased, and now is 11 yrs old. She was diagnosed with ADD, and her doctor recommended that she take melatonin to help her brain shut down for the night. She used to sleep walk, and had not had an episode since she has been on the Melatonin. Her Dr. said that someone with ADD does not have a normal mechanism to stop thinking at night, and thus does not fall asleep into the REM stage. She will sleep walk and wake up in the AM as though she barely slept. In order for her brain to slow down a bit, she recommended the Melatonin. It has worked.

  2. jennifer says:

    My son has autism and the doc recommend melatonin at 5mg and im worried its to high. His only 2. Can i get some input

    • Diane says:

      I would agree with you- too much! I’ve an ADHD 8yr old and I cut a ONE mg tab in half and find it still works. I’m giving him less and less to find his minimum threshold. He is only 48 lbs, skinny guy, but it helps immencly. CAUTION! There is not much data on children… known to be helpful in kids with Autistic realm “brains” but should be used only to correct a sleep cycle and used for two weeks at a time (see Dr Oz site) according to sleep specialist on his show. Moms know best and instincts are usually right!!

  3. Karen says:

    My 10 year old son has been diagnosed with ADHD in 2007 and has had difficulty falling asleep most of his life. We have introduced 3mg melotonin in addition to the stimulants he takes for the ADHD. He is very small for his age weighing 63lbs and is apprx 4 1/2 feet tall. It seems to help him sleep but are there side affects as he has been complaining of frequent abdominal cramps with bowels ranging from constipation- normal-loose. He has recently just started vomitting (3-4 separate occassion in the past two weeks) He does have allergies to pllens and some foods as well that can be treated with benydril. Any advice?

    • Diane says:

      ONE mg is the dose for an adult and should be used for two weeks to establish a sleep CYCLE– not a “sleeping pill”. My son also has ADHD and a light-weight- I cut 1mg in half and I am decreasing to find his threshold. Your son’s ADHD med should be done its work by dinner time but I don’t know (obviously) what he takes. Suggest finding a Psychiatrist you trust and he likes for proper medicinal care. I was diagnosed as an adult and it has taken four years of trial and error and couple of Dr’s to get it right…

  4. Jorie says:

    My Granddaughter has Rett Syndrome. My Daughter with advice of her pedi. started meletonin. Does this suppliment have any effect on weight gain? As she has gained since starting. HELP??

  5. rambo says:

    my daughter inlaw is giving her 4yr.old who weighs 34lbs 3mg when ever he can,t sleep …they also say he might allergies and is on nasonex 50 mcg 2 sprays each nostrile is this safe or not..she claims a doctor said to????please repley asap..thank you

    • admin says:

      use the lowest dose of melatonin which is about 1 mg or less.

    • Jill says:

      My almost 2 year old son’s sleep specialist just put him on a 1-3mg dosage of Melatonin to help with his sleep problems. He has central sleep apnea and RLS. He is also on Veramyst a nasal spray for his allergies. His sleep specialist says this is the safest medicine we can give him to help him sleep. As long as she is giving him this under guidance of a dr. it seems to be the saftest thing to give them, being it’s a natural hormone.

  6. Heather says:

    My son is 12 and has a very hard time falling asleep at night, He stays up til 730 in the morning most of the time. His Doctor said it would be safe to give him melatonin he weighs around 140 pounds and is 5 foot 6. I don’t know what dose to give him but the poor kid needs his sleep. Any help would be great. Thank you for your time. Heather

    • Carol Paschall says:

      My son is 11 and we give him 5 mg. He’s been on Melatonin for over a year and it has worked wonders in him. Sice it’s your first time using the drug I would start him off at 3mg and see how that works.

    • stephanie peralez says:

      my daughter just turned 6, weighs 57 lbs and is pretty tall for her age at almost 4 1/2 ft. her doctor just put her on melatonin 3mg every night. my advice would be to start at a low dose .5 to 1 mg, and increase if needed just be careful to monitor the child the first few days as well days their dose would increase

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