American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) Warns Against Giving Children Over-The-Counter Melatonin Supplements

Most parents want their children to sleep well, and it is unsurprising to find parents whose children have trouble sleeping to melatonin to improve sleep quality. However, a recent health advisory from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) warns against the use of over-the-counter melatonin supplements. 

Melatonin supplements available over the counter to aid sleep 

The body produces melatonin which is a hormone that regulates sleep. However, they are supplements sold without prescription that can aid in sleep. Although the general assumption is that taking the hormone can help one sleep, that is not always true because some individuals may take melatonin, which will have little or no effect. However, for some individuals, including children, it does help. 

In recent times melatonin supplement use has increased considerably. As a result, there have been concerns about melatonin overdose in children. Overdoses can result in excessive sleepiness, nausea, headache, or agitation, but these effects are mostly not dangerous. But this does not imply that melatonin bought over-the-counter can be safe, and AASM warns about its use. 

Melatonin sold over the counter is categorized as a nutritional supplement. This indicates that it is not subject to FDA regulation in the same way as over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, diphenhydramine, or ibuprofen. In addition, the ingredients used in the melatonin that people purchase are not regulated.

Melatonin may contain substances that need a prescription. 

The AASM cautions that the exact melatonin content in pills or liquids can vary, ranging from far less to more than indicated on the label. For instance, chewable tablets kids are most prone to take have the widest variety. Furthermore, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to tell the ingredients used in the melatonin. Sometimes melatonin may have serotonin, a neurotransmitter and hormone that needs a prescription.

Although melatonin may benefit children in getting good sleep, it is vital to consider other strategies to improve sleep first. Things to consider are having a regular sleep routine, ensuring the child exercises during the day so they are tired by bedtime, and having a calming bedtime routine. 

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