Unless your child has been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, their body is likely producing the right amount of melatonin on its own. There is some research that supports the use of melatonin in children with diagnoses such as ASD and ADHD. However, it is important to note that children with these types of diagnoses are at higher risk of sleep-related disorders in general.
One study measured the amount of melatonin in 31 different brands. The study found that 71% of the samples were over 10% off from the amount stated on the label. These discrepancies were found not only between brands but between batches of the same dose. It also found that 26% of samples contained unlabeled serotonin, which is not authorized for sale as a supplement. All this to say that we basically have no idea how much melatonin, or serotonin (-eek) is in any given bottle of melatonin gummies we give to our kids.
There is very little evidence of the use of melatonin supplements in humans. Animal testing has provided some evidence that melatonin supplements can delay puberty in adolescence. Because melatonin is a hormone, there is also concern that it may cause long-term effects on the reproductive system. The most reported side effects of melatonin supplementation in children are:
Increased bedwetting or urination in the evening
Many parents also report more frequent night wakings, nightmares, and restless sleep when they gave their child melatonin.
Melatonin gummies for kids have not been shown to improve the overall quality of sleep. Rather, it mainly affects how quickly a person falls asleep at bedtime. Studies indicate that when taken at the appropriate time, melatonin supplements shorten the length it takes to fall asleep by 7-12 minutes. That’s it.
Good news! There are lots of natural ways to ensure your child’s body produces enough melatonin.
Sunlight is literally how melatonin is made. I’m gonna get a little nerdy for a sec. You see, sunlight produces serotonin. Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin. When the sun goes down, your body converts all of the built-up serotonin to melatonin.
In the same way that darkness triggers melatonin, light stops its production. That’s why keeping it dark in your child’s room is so important. If your child is old enough to request a night light, go ahead and give them one. But keep it low, and make sure the light is RED or AMBER. Red light does not inhibit melatonin production the way yellow or blue light does. Also, make sure you stay away from screen time 2 hours before bedtime.
Get your child up at the same time every morning and put them to bed at the same time every night (within 15-20 minutes). A consistent routine helps your child’s internal clock regulate and produce melatonin at the right time.
We at The Goodnight Guide can help you make real, long-lasting changes to your little one’s sleep. To learn more, book a free discovery call here.
* Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not medical advice. Please speak with your pediatrician about melatonin supplements and indications for their use.