Sleep Problems? Avoid Melatonin : Parent and Teen Connection

Sleep Problems? Avoid Melatonin

December 12, 20120 Comments

It’s not uncommon for teens to deal with sleeping issues, and more often than not, parents look at lots of solutions, including medication. While there are many non-experts and experts alike that will tell you to have your teen take melatonin, a recent Chicago Tribune advice column suggested the Mayo Clinic disagrees with this advice.

Melatonin not recommended for children or teens as sleep aid

Although melatonin has been shown to be useful for treating sleep problems in adults, it has not been carefully studied in children. Due to the lack of scientific evidence, and because of some potentially harmful side effects, melatonin is not recommended as a sleep aid for children and teens.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by your brain’s pineal gland. Melatonin appears to be linked to the body’s sleep/wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. The release of melatonin is stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light. The levels of melatonin in your blood are highest just before you go to sleep.

Some research suggests that, in adults, melatonin supplements might be helpful in treating jet lag or reducing the time it takes to fall asleep. The most common side effects from taking melatonin are daytime sleepiness, dizziness and headaches. Less common side effects can include abdominal pain, mild anxiety, irritability, confusion and feelings of depression. It’s not known how common or severe these side effects might be in children.

Another concern about using melatonin for children is that its effects on the body go beyond sleep. It also plays a role in the way a person’s body matures sexually. Melatonin levels have an impact on how the ovaries and testes function. Further study is needed to determine if taking melatonin during childhood or the teen years can have an impact on a person’s sexual development.

Read the full article at the Chicago Tribune.

In most cases, experts have suggested instead of a medication remedy, teens with sleep problems turn to lifestyle remedies instead. Before you ever have your teen use any medication, even over-the-counter options, check with your family doctor.


Sleep Problems: Avoid Melatonin

Article: Sleep Problems: Avoid Melatonin

Author:Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic

Source: Chicago Tribune

Filed in: Advice for Parents
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