Melatonin is a hormonal supplement known to be a sleep enhancer, and is mainly used to treat insomnia. It is also used to treat children suffering from ADHD, as it helps combat problems related to this disorder.
Children suffering from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) often find it difficult to fall asleep at night. Certain medications that are prescribed to treat this disorder in children may also contribute to insomnia. Sleep onset insomnia, as seen in children suffering from ADHD, is mainly caused due to decreased levels of melatonin-secreted by the pineal gland in the brain- in the body.
The pineal gland is responsible for the regulation of the sleep cycle, and melatonin is secreted as it gets dark. The levels of melatonin are reduced during the day time. However, in the presence of disorders like ADHD, epilepsy, and autism, the levels may fall below normal. This can lead to delayed sleep onset and the child may end up staying awake the whole night and feel sleepy during the day. In such cases, synthetically produced melatonin is used to induce sleep. This laboratory manufactured melatonin for sleep disorders is known to be quite effective if taken in the correct dosage. You can avail this hormone supplement from most health food stores.
Uses of Melatonin for Children
After years of research, doctors have concluded that melatonin can help ADHD children sleep better, if given in the recommended dosage. Children suffering from ADHD may find it difficult to fall asleep and may suffer from insomnia. This can make them weak and experience several other neurological problems. Hence to cure sleep disorders, they can be given melatonin, but only after consulting the child’s physician.
Children should be given approximately 0.3 mg or even less per day to treat sleep-related problems. This should be administered to children a couple of hours before they go to bed. This will help induce proper sleep and the child will wake up the next day feeling fresh, without any signs of sleepiness. The supplements of melatonin help regulate sleep at the stipulated time.
Other benefits of using melatonin for children are restoration of the normal sleep cycle, and also keeping them alert and active during the day. Children suffering from epilepsy, autism, eating disorders, depression etc., have known to be benefited with the discriminate use of this hormonal supplement. Modifications in the behavior of children and teenagers have also been observed.
Possible Side Effects of an Overdose
Anything taken above the recommended dose can cause some unnecessary interactions in the body. The same applies for melatonin, which may give rise to a health-related issues in children, as well as in teenagers. Long term usage of melatonin may make children feel groggy (or sleepy) throughout the day. This may affect concentration and the child may appear disoriented. To avoid any reaction, it is necessary to consult a health care provider before administering this supplement. However some effects can be observed in case of an overuse of melatonin supplement. These side effects can be cured by gradually reducing the dose.
- Abdominal discomfort and pain
- Bed wetting, mainly in toddlers and children
- Nightmares experienced during deep sleep
- Frequent changes in mood (mood swings)
- Bouts of dizziness or complaining of giddiness
- Irritability and being aggressive at times
- Episodes of seizures, which may increase in frequency
- Stomach upset or diarrhea
- Fatigue and generalized body weakness
- Headaches, which may range from moderate to severe
- Loss of appetite
- Delayed puberty (seen in prepubescent children)
This supplement is known to effectively treat sleep-related disorders not only in children, but also helps adults deal with these problems. Even though it is considered to be relatively safe, it should not be given to the child without consulting a pediatrician.