'Easy' Way Some Parents Put Their Kids to Sleep May Be Too Dangerous

melatoninGot a restless kid who has a hard time falling asleep? I swear, some nights it's enough to make me contemplate looking into witchcraft. Isn't there some spell I could cast on my kid? Or a magic potion -- oh wait, there is! Melatonin. Just a few drops in some milk and your darling insomniac will fall right asleep. It's totally worth the hormone imbalance that follows.

Wait -- hormone imbalance?!? Yikes. According to Dr. David Samadi, that's just one of a few dangerous side-effects from melatonin your child could get. He's cautioning parents against using the herbal supplement on our kids. So does that mean he'll make house-calls and help us get our kids to sleep?


Haha, of course not. But his warning sure put me on notice. Melatonin is a hormone your body produces to regulate your sleeping and waking patterns, so giving it to your kids, especially when it's not under the direction of a doctor, could mean tampering with your kids' hormones. Some children have complained of blurred vision and anxiety from taking melatonin. It can also be addictive.

But beyond even that, we just don't know enough about melatonin. Doctors don't know what its long-term effects on kids may be. It's not regulated by the FDA. You're pretty much gambling when you administer it.

So when doctors put it all that way, that bedtime quick fix sounds dangerous -- way too dangerous for my comfort. I guess it's back to practicing good bedroom hygiene. I should know better than to trust any shortcuts in life, so it doesn't surprise me. Still, parents' jobs are difficult and endless. You can't blame us for wanting a magic pill to make something a little easier, though.

Have you ever given your child melatonin to help them sleep at night?


Image via Michael Reuter/Flickr

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