Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, with the most being produced at night. The pineal gland responds to dark environments, which is why the melatonin levels peak, during the nighttime. This hormone is very important, because it regulates the awake and sleep cycles. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, since melatonin is often prescribed for many other medical conditions.
Melatonin for Toddlers
Many toddlers suffer from what is known as “sleep-onset delay”, which means they have more difficulty falling to sleep and sometimes it may take up to 1-2 hours, before they actually drift off into slumber. Whereas, if they are given a dose of melatonin, they will fall to sleep, within 30 minutes or less.
Melatonin for Children Under 5
As of 2012, it was estimated that 5.9 million (9.5%) children between the age of 3-17 years were diagnosed with ADHD and 13.5% of those were male (CDC). The prevelance of attention deficient hyperactivity disorder continues to be on the rise. Melatonin is often prescribed to children that suffer from ADHD, because is very effective in calming anxiety.
Is Melatonin Safe To Take Every Night
While many parents take it upon themselves to medicate their children every night with melatonin, it may not be the right solution to your child’s insomnia. Your child will become dependent on the melatonin, while becoming immune to the drug, as well. In this case, your child’s pineal gland will forget how to manufacture melatonin and interfere with the circadian rhythms, which is the body’s natural time clock. In other words, your child will become dependent on the supplement.
Becoming immune to melatonin will mean that you will be forced to make frequent dosage adjustments over time, which may be harmful to children.
Melatonin Side Effects in Children
- Daytime sleepiness
- Intermittent Depression
- Vertigo (dizziness)
- Abdominal pain
- Vivid dreaming
Bad Side Effects of Melatonin
Melatonin should be avoided in most children, because it can cause a delay in the adolescent development. The main reason for this is it interferes with other hormone production and effectiveness.
You should avoid taking melatonin, if you are currently taking hypertensive drugs or undergoing immunosuppressive therapy. It can increase the immunity process, which would detrimental to a transplant recipient.
If you have been diagnosed with hemophilia or other bleeding disorders, you should not consume melatonin, because it can interfere with the clotting factors.
- Skin allergies or reactions (itching, rash, painful lumps)
- Angina (chest pain)
- Decreased sperm count
- Tachycardia (increased pulse)
- Night terrors
- Esophagus inflammation
- Hypoglycemia (lower blood sugar levels)
- Interfere with cytochrome P450 enzyme, which is responsible for processing specific types of medications
- Musculoskeletal disorders (decrease muscle control)
- Nervous system disorders
- Gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhea, vomiting)
- Dysgeusia (metallic, foul taste in mouth)