'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

in the news, kid health, kid sleep


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kckcm2 kckcm2

I have a melatonin dependency because I took it when I was younger and now my brain will not make melatonin in sufficient amounts to put me to sleep. It is a drug I will have to take for the rest of my life because I took it in my formative years. I cannot stress enough how bad it is to give your children melatonin while their brain is still developing. The brain needs to learn how to make it in the appropriate dosage to cause natural sleep. Tampering with a growing child's hormones is never a good idea.

worki... workingmama86

I have given it to my son on two different occasions. I am always reluctant to give him any form of medication unless it's completely necessary. So I have only ever used that as a last resort. Now I will be even more cautious of this supplement. Thanks for the heads up! 

silve... silverdawn99

Like everything its fine in moderation

when people abuse it then its a bad drug

mompam mompam

I gave it to my add son for about a year. He would be up until 2:00 am on school nights. A change in meds finally helped him. It was a nightmare because he got no sleep and then I had to wake him for school.

kaedr... kaedrasgma

The pedi said it was safe to  use according to directions

Brain... BrainyMommy

I tried melatonin on myself and my kid. Nothing. I think it's hogwash and doesn't work.

Nurse... Nursekelly1980

I use melatonin for myself, knocks me out within half an hour. I sleep for 4 hrs straight. It's great. But I wouldn't give it to a kid but I don't like to drug my kids with anything

Choco... Chocodoxies

I have never heard of this. But nevermind my child, I'm picking this up for myself! I have terrible insomnia caused by a thyroid condition. If I can get the natural hormone that my thyroid should be regulating on those nights when I am up at 4:00 am reading, I am going to try it. I'll talk to my Dr. first of course. 

I wouldn't likely use it on my daughters though. A good hard day of play knocks them right out. 

Stephanie Pencka

Melatonin, I believe, gave my daughter night terrors. When we gave it to her, she was like Carrie and would not stop screaming in the middle of the night. Without it, she sleeps just fine.

Michelle Harvey

When will Stir writers actually research their articles?  Honestly, most autism parents would be lost without melatonin. Most autistics don't make it on their own or they make it at the wrong time. Yes, there are negative side effects.  But what about the effects of sleep deprivation of an autistic child who does't have the language skills to understand why they need to sleep. Whose schedule would be all over the place without it. We use it on my son's doctor's recommendation.

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