Pediatricians frequently recommend melatonin for children with sleep problems, or parents might try it themselves. However, the proper use of melatonin is frequently misunderstood. Here is a guide for parents and pediatricians to decide if a child should try it, and to understand how it should be used.
A common thread I find in children coming to Sleep Clinic is that many or all of them have been on melatonin at some point, or are taking it currently. Melatonin is an important tool in the treatment of sleep disorders in children, and because it is naturally derived, there is a widespread perception that it is safe. However, I have become concerned by the frequency of its use, especially in an unsupervised way.
Melatonin sales have doubled in the past ten years, increasing from $90 million in 2007 to $260 million in 2012. I worry that the widespread availability of melatonin has led to some parents using it as a shortcut to good sleep practices. An article in the Wall Street Journal (which also provided the sales figures above), quoted a father’s review on Amazon:
OK, yes, as parents my wife and I should do a better job starting the bedtime routine earlier, turning off the TV earlier, limiting sweets, etc., etc. Well, for whatever reason, this is not our strong