Who Can And Cannot Take Melatonin
Melatonin is mainly prescribed for adults aged 55 or over, to help for short-term sleep problems.
It can sometimes be used by adults under the age of 55 and by children, if a doctor recommends it.
It’s not suitable for some people. To make sure melatonin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to melatonin or any other medicines in the past
- have liver or kidney problems
- have rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or lupus, or any other autoimmune condition
Is Melatonin Safe For My Child To Take
New research shows that more Americans than ever are taking melatonin as a sleep aid, with parents turning to the supplement to help combat a range of sleep issues in children, including difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep.
However, although studies indicate that melatonin is safe for children as a short-term measure, few scientific studies have explored the long-term effects of taking it in childhood. What’s more, it is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drink Administration . As a result, experts are unable to determine how safe melatonin supplements are for your child to take on an ongoing basis. We dont have enough studies to say whether melatonin is safe long term, says Dr. Kansagra.
Without FDA regulation, manufacturers of melatonin supplements can put products on the shelves that are vastly different from one another, dont have melatonin at all, or include other ingredients not stipulated on the label, explains Dr. Kansagra. One study that looked at 31 commercially available types of melatonin found that the actual melatonin content varied from -83% to +478% of the labeled amount.
Research also reveals that some melatonin supplements contain serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate our moods. Serotonin is a common ingredient in mood disorder medication, such as anxiety and depression. While serotonin plays an important part in the function of our bodies, too much can lead to serotonin toxicity.
About Author: Katie Faley
Katie Faley is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare. She graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in English Studies. Before joining OSF HealthCare in 2021, she worked in magazine editing, digital marketing and freelance writing.Katie is often found listening to 60s folk music, deciding on a new skill to learn, losing track of time in a library or spending time with her family and friends.
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Is Melatonin Use In Kids Effective
The studies that have been done show that the use of melatonin when timed and dosed appropriately can help children fall asleep faster at the initial onset of sleep. However since melatonin does not actually cause you to fall asleep, it just helps promote sleep, the use of melatonin wont necessarily get your child to sleep all night.
For short term use in older children it may be helpful in resetting sleep schedules. 4
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When Should Melatoninnot Be Used
As mentioned above, children lose sleep for many reasons.Avoid melatonin:
- if the insomnia is situational
- if the insomnia is short-term
- if the insomnia is due to an underlying physicalcause
- if your child is younger than 3
Melatonin should never substitute for healthy sleeppractices: a regular, age-appropriate and consistent bedtime and bedtimeroutine, no caffeine, and no electronics or screens before bedtime.
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What Are Melatonins Side Effects On Kids
Potential, though mild, side effects of melatonin use in children include agitation, headache, nausea, dizziness and drowsiness. While it is not known for sure and more research on the long term use of melatonin in children is needed, its important to remember that melatonin is a hormone, and, as such, there is a possibility that it may affect hormonal development, including puberty and menstrual cycles.2
The Bottom Line
If your child occasionally has trouble falling asleep, instilling better sleep habits and routines might be in order. But if your child experiences significant difficulty falling asleep, melatonin might benefit your child, especially when its used in combination with behavioral interventions and healthy sleep practices.5
Most importantly, talk with your childs pediatrician before giving them amelatonin supplement to make sure its right for them, to understand the proper dosage, and to rule out any underlying health issues.
Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Alternatives To Melatonin For Kids
Aside from melatonin, doctors may recommend other drugs or supplements to help a child with sleep-related issues. Some of these can be purchased over the counter, while others require a prescription.
- Antihistamines: Over-the-counter antihistamines that relieve allergy symptoms can also cause drowsiness. Though antihistamines are available without a prescription, they do have risks and should be used under the guidance of a pediatrician.
- Valerian: Valerian is a plant that is marketed as a sleep aid and dietary supplement. The evidence is mixed regarding valerians effectiveness at treating insomnia, but studies report few negative side effects. Children under 3 years old should not take valerian.
- Prescription drugs: In some cases, doctors may prescribe drugs that are usually used to treat sleep problems in adults.
Note that experts caution against taking melatonin in combination with other sleep aids. They can have an additive effect in the body, causing an excess of sleepiness or sedation, and may interact in other ways that could be dangerous.
Anyone considering giving a child or adolescent any product to help them sleep should start by talking with the childs pediatrician for guidance. Every situation is unique, and what works for one child may not be helpful for another.
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How Much And How Often A Baby Should Sleep
Depending on the exact age of your baby, they should be sleeping for around 16 hours each day. Obviously, this event isnt a straight 16 hours, as they only sleep for 3 to 4 hours at one time. At this age, babies are not expected to sleep fully through the night as they will want to wake up to eat at least one time.
You cannot expect your baby to sleep fully through the night each night, but a problem does arise when your baby is waking every hour or 2. If your baby simply wakes 1 time during the night, this event is completely normal and it sounds like no melatonin supplement is necessary.
Why Is A Good Night’s Sleep Important For Children
Good sleep helps the brain function properly and helps to regulate mood, behavior and emotions. Sleep is important for everyone’s health but it’s especially important for growing and developing kids.
“When children don’t get enough sleep, we see both short- and long-term consequences,” says Dr. Caraballo. “Initially, they may show symptoms similar to ADHD attention issues, hyperactivity and learning difficulties.”
Over the long term, poor sleep habits can lead to:
- Appetite issues
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Look For Behavioral Solutions First
For older kids, you may want to try behavioral and sleep hygiene measures before turning to supplements.
It helps to establish a bedtime routine for your child. That means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and removing phones, tablets, TVs, and computers an hour before bedtime.
This is really hard but really important, Flower said. The blue light will suppress the production of melatonin and the stimulation from the electronics continues to occur in the brain after the devices are shut off.
Kids should also get plenty of exercise earlier in the day and avoid caffeinated snacks and drinks . Older children may need less sleep so its OK to skip a nap after school if they sleep better at night.
What Does Melatonin Do
Research has shown that taking melatonin supplements is especially helpful for people who have specific sleep problems. It’s useful in resetting your body from jet lag. It can help people who have trouble falling asleep if they are anxious about something like surgery.
Melatonin can help make children feel sleepier before bedtime. This helps them wind down and go to sleep earlier than they would without the supplement.
Melatonin is especially helpful in helping kids with specific health or behavior conditions, including:
Children who have these issues tend to have trouble falling asleep on their own. Melatonin supplements help them get to sleep more easily.
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What Is A Safe Melatonin Dosage For Kids
No large studies offer information about the appropriate dosage of melatonin for children. In her practice, Dr. Caraballo suggests:
- 1-3 milligrams for toddlers and preschool-age children
- 3-5 milligrams for school-age children and adolescents
- May consider increasing up to 10 mg in older adolescents
“We ask parents to start with a low dosage, according to age. And we carefully evaluate how effective it is,” says Dr. Caraballo.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, many children respond to a low dose when taken 30 to 90 minutes before bedtime. Ask your pediatrician for guidance about dosage and timing.
Is There An Accepted Dosage Of Melatonin For Toddlers
Because melatonin isnt regulated or approved by the FDA as a sleep aid in toddlers, its important to discuss the option of giving melatonin to your toddler with their pediatrician. They can help guide you through other issues that may be contributing to the difficulties of sleeping and troubleshoot issues that may contradict the use of synthetic melatonin.
Once youve gotten the go-ahead from your toddlers doctor to use melatonin supplements, its best to start with a low dose and move up as needed. Your doctor should be able to direct the best range of dosage for your toddler. Many kids respond to 0.5 1 milligram, so its good to start there and move up, with the OK of your childs doctor, every few days by 0.5 milligrams.
Most doctors will recommend the dose of melatonin for toddlers be given about an hour before bedtime, just before going through the rest of the sleep routine youve set for your toddler.
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What Is The Lethal Dose Of Melatonin
What is the lethal dose of melatonin? Lethal Dose of Melatonin. Just like any other medications, this has a lethal dose of 50 . This means that this is the lethal dose at which at least 50% of the rats or mice or other test animals die of exposure.
What is the recommended daily amount of melatonin? Melatonin is typically started 7 days before the start of chemotherapy and continued throughout full treatment course. 20 mg of melatonin intravenously daily for 2 months, followed by 10 mg of oral melatonin daily, has also been used. For jaw pain: 5 mg of melatonin at bedtime for 4 weeks has been used.
How much melatonin is too much to take? Too much melatonin is a pretty vague term, for a reason. Because dosages vary between supplement brands, and everybodys natural sensitivity to melatonin is different, the threshold where it becomes too much wont be the same for everybody. In adults, doses in the 30-mg range may be harmful, Healthline reports.
What is the most effective dose of melatonin? The most effective dose is usually between 0.3 mg and 5 mg. Time release melatonin supplements may require specific amounts since they are absorbed and used differently by your body. If you arent getting the results you want, consider decreasing your dosage rather than increasing it.
When To Talk To Your Doctor About Melatonin
Sleep is essential for children for a number of reasons. During sleep, the body releases growth hormones and repairs damaged tissue and muscle. Appropriate sleep in children is linked to positive school performance.
If your child is struggling to fall asleep or get sufficient sleep, talk to your healthcare provider. They can help identify the cause of sleeplessness. Common reasons for a lack of sleep in children include insomnia and delayed sleep-phase syndrome.
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Can I Go To Childrens Hospital At 18
Three percent of patients admitted to childrens hospitals are at least 18 years old, and trends indicate that their numbers will only grow. Both pediatric and adult hospitals are building programs, partnerships and structured referral arrangements to move beyond age alone in selecting the best treatment site.
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Melatonin Should Be Used In Conjunction With Other Best
Giving a toddler some melatonin and hoping that it would do the trick and thats the solution to your toddlers sleep issues isnt realistic. Melatonin can be impactful if its used in conjunction with other best-sleep practices for kids. This includes having a routine, consistent bedtime and a process that the toddler goes through to start signaling its time for them to go to bed.
Theres no one-size-fits-all for a good bedtime routine. Given this, you can play with whatever works best for your child and your home. For some, the routine includes a bedtime bath, laying in bed and reading a book, before turning off the light and drifting to sleep. The thought behind this is to give your childs body all the signals it needs to start the natural production of melatonin. The melatonin supplement on top of it can be an extra hand.
On the opposite, some factors should be avoided before bed, since they suppress the bodys natural ability to begin the melatonin production process. One big hindrance is when our kids use light-emitting devices so smartphones, tablets, and television just before bed. Experts suggest limiting the use of these before bedtime so kids, and in doing so, it can help reduce the time it takes for toddlers to fall asleep.
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What Age Can Children Start Taking Melatonin
Melatonin levels are naturally at their highest in early childhood from age 1 to 3 1/2 or so, according to Levinson and then they decline continuously until adolescence. So, if a young child is having a hard time going to bed at night, or staying asleep, looking at their overall sleep hygiene, and potentially making changes, should be the first order of business. If a child is still having difficulty sleeping, you can discuss incorporating melatonin with their doctor.
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Due to its lack of regulation, there arent any hard and fast rules for when kids can start taking it and how much. However, Levinson notes that many of the studies of melatonin in children start around age 6. And again, DeBlasio doesnt recommend giving melatonin to any child under age 3.
Can Melatonin Gummies Help Kids Sleep
When your child has trouble falling asleep, you may wonder if a kid-friendly version of melatonin supplements would be safe to offer on occasion. Melatonin may help some kids fall asleep more quickly when its used properly, and it comes in gummy varieties that may appeal to children, but you shouldnt dispense it like candy.
Its ideal to teach kids to fall asleep on their own, rather than relying on sleep aids, including dietary supplements like melatonin, says Pakkay Ngai, M.D., pediatric sleep medicine specialist at Joseph M. Sanzari Childrens Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center. Teaching healthy sleep habits can be tricky, but the rewards pay off for a lifetime.
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Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome And Melatonin
Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a common disorder in teens, where their natural sleep period is shifted significantly later than the schedule which their commitments mandates. Thus, teens with this disorder an unable to fall asleep by 12 AM in the morning or even later. I have seen kids who are routinely falling asleep between 45 AM. Melatonin has a clear role in this disorder, as small doses 34 hours earlier than sleep onset can be effective in managing this disorder. The reason for the delay is a marked delay in the DLMO, so melatonin dosing can move sleep periods earlier. For children with DSPS, giving a dose 46 hours prior to the current time of sleep onset, then moving it earlier every 45 days, is recommended, with low dose preparations. Of all the conditions mentioned here, this has the clearest benefit from melatonin. Here is a terrific review article.
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Side Effects Of Melatonin In Children
When starting any new vitamin, supplement, or medication, it is important to weigh the risks beforehand. Although more studies need to evaluate risks of taking melatonin long-term, reported side effects in children and adolescents include:
- Increased bedwetting
- Mood swings
Because melatonin is a hormone, some health professionals have suggested that taking it as a supplement could interfere with a childs development. However, several studies have shown no adverse effects in reproductive function or child development.
Melatonin may also interact and interfere with other herbs, supplements, and certain medications. A childs doctor should be aware of any supplements or medications the child is currently taking before they start melatonin.
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Melatonin Guidelines For Kids
Dont incorporate melatonin into your childs bedtime routine permanently only use it on a limited basis . If your child cant swallow pills, consider melatonin gummies. Read the ingredients label, because some gummy supplements contain a lot of sugar or corn syrup.
Before deciding to use melatonin for your childs sleep, be sure to speak with a pediatrician or sleep medicine specialist, who can advise you on:
- what age you can start giving your child melatonin
- the best time and frequency to give your child melatonin
- the dosage thats appropriate for your child
- any reasons why your child should not take melatonin
Keep melatonin hidden and out of reach, so that any children in your home who enjoy gummy candy arent tempted to snack on the supplements.