Can melatonin help children and children with autism sleep better?

Posted by Joshua Margetts on

With the sales of melatonin increasing, parents are starting to use melatonin as a supplement to help with their childrens sleeping disorders.

There are many children that continue to struggle to get to sleep at night and have sleeping disorders. Scientific evidence and studies now show that melatonin can help children with insomnia or that struggle to get to sleep.

Melatonin which is a natural hormone produced in the body to regulate and promote sleep, has become popular amongst parents because of its safe qualities and few side effects.

It is thought that people may not produce as much melatonin as others maybe because of environmental factors and therefore a supplement can help them get to sleep.

However It should not be used if the sleep disorder is temporary or if it hasn’t been a long term problem that is consistently effecting them. Also it shouldn’t be used if your child is under 2 years old.

Sleeping disorders are just as common in children as in adults. Melatonin has shown to significantly help children with chronic difficulty falling asleep within 30 minutes of an age-appropriate bedtime resulting in less difficulty with falling asleep, earlier time of sleep onset, and more sleep at night.

It should be noted that melatonin should never substitute for healthy sleep practices: a regular, age-appropriate and consistent bedtime and bedtime routine, no caffeine and no electronics/screens before bedtime.


Can Melatonin help children with autism sleep better?

It has been shown that more than half of all children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) struggle with sleep disorders with insomnia being the most common. This is thought be a problem because children with autism can have different melatonin pathways and also lower than normal melatonin levels. Not only does it affect children but also many adults with autism also struggle with sleep disorders.

These sleep disorders can be a problem for children with autism as it can increase the autism symptoms such as repetitive behaviours and social difficulties.

Recently the seep hormone Melatonin has become popular among families and people that are affected by ASD given the low cost of the supplement and also the benefits.

Melatonin is naturally produced by the body to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Its levels begin to rise shortly after nightfall, promoting sleep.

A study with 24 Children was taken where they all were diagnosed with ASD with the parents reporting that they did not fall asleep within 30 minutes of bed time three or more nights a week. A positive response to the melatonin was falling asleep within 30 minutes five or more nights a week.

Seven of the children managed to achieve this response with just a 1mg nightly dose of melatonin taken 30 minutes before bedtime. Another fourteen achieved it with a 3mg dose and another three children with a 6mg dose with non of the dose levels producing any worrisome side effects.

Many other studies have show that melatonin improved sleep in 63 percent of children with autism that received it. The children managed to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.


What dose should you take?

When sleep problems start to develop, behavioural strategies are normally prescribed first such as a bedtime routine or staying away from television and avoiding certain foods before bed.

When these strategies don’t work then it can be a good choice to introduce melatonin to help develop a good sleep routine.

It is recommended to start with a 1mg dose and to increase it to 3mg if there is no improvement.

Please always consult a doctor before taking any medical supplements.

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