Whoever said parenting was easy obviously has never had a child with sleeping issues. Having a child who cannot fall asleep at night has to be one the few things that most parents fear because when their child cannot sleep at night, then they too would not be able to sleep at all because they have to stay awake with them too. Most parents who have had this problem have spent many a night up with their kids trying everything humanly possible to get their kids to sleep all to no avail. At the end of the day, these kids end up staying awake all night and their parents too so that in the morning, the parents are so drained that even getting ready for work is so hard for them. As you can imagine this state of affairs is not something that a parent wants to go through night after night with their kids and so they quickly look for a solution to the problem and most times that solution comes in the form of a drug called melatonin.
Melatonin is a drug that contains the hormone melatonin which is used to control and regulate a person’s sleep/wake cycle. It is used for so many other things also including regulating the sleep cycles of blind people, reduces the pain of endometriosis and menstruation, and equally aids in the adjustment of a person’s circadian rhythm after a jet lag. So, many parents have discovered melatonin, and it has been a saving angel because with melatonin, their children can fall asleep when they should and not only that, they also stay asleep and wake up in the morning fully alert. From parents who have made use of this magic cure have found out that with the help of melatonin, their children always fall asleep a lot faster than they did when they were not on melatonin. And more than that they also stay asleep all through the night which most likely would not have been possible without the melatonin.
For all intents and purposes, melatonin is considered a healthy supplement for people because it is basically a hormone that we also produce in our pineal glands. So, medical experts have branded melatonin safe for adults who have a problem with regulating their sleep, but when it comes to its usage for children, they aren’t entirely sure that it is beneficial to them in the long run. It seems like the guardian angel has turned out to be the enemy.
The Well blog of the New York Times made a post that caused a lot of raised eyebrows. It made a post centered on the long-term effects of melatonin on children with sleep problems or sleep cycle problems. They made this blog post based on the premise that a young child’s brain is still in its development stage and anything can permanently disfigure or make changes to something in their brain.
So what does the hormone melatonin do to the brain of a child? It simply sends out the message to the brain that it is the right time to sleep which is exactly what the hormone being secreted by the pineal gland does. This added to the fact that melatonin can be found in trace quantities in healthy foods like olives, nuts, and barley is why the drug melatonin is seen as a healthy supplement that can’t possibly do any harm.
However, a doctor and director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Judith Owens has something different to say about the drug, melatonin being seen as a healthy dietary supplement. In her own words, she said, “I think we just don’t know what the potential long-term effects are, particularly when you’re talking about young children. Parents really need to understand that there are potential risks.”
And she is right to fear just like our mothers should be afraid too. Based on recent research, it has been discovered that the drug melatonin, not only affects the brain, it also has the power to affect other systems of the body such as the respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and metabolic systems of the body. This has become serious.
As if that isn’t enough of a problem, it has also been discovered and reported by the New York Times that the drug, melatonin, also has some probable side effects for adults this time and they include being groggy even in the daytime, feelings of dizziness and even headaches. While this is bad it also drastically limits a person’s ability to carry out certain tasks that they have to do such as driving and operating big machinery. Imagine how many potential accidents that could occur when a man groggy and dizzy from the melatonin he took the previous night drives to work. On some occasions, some users of melatonin have reported that it does on occasion affect other drugs such as the ones used to regulate blood sugar level for diabetics and drugs used to control blood pressure for hypertensive patients.
The general consensus is that melatonin is a healthy dietary supplement and as such many parents don’t consult with their doctors before getting it for their children to combat their sleep cycle problems.
Dr. Owens buttresses this point when she says “I rarely see a family come in with a child with insomnia who hasn’t tried melatonin. I would say at least 75 percent of the time when they come in to see us” at the sleep clinic, they are either on melatonin or they’ve tried it in the past.”
When asked what she would advise parents to do, Dr. Owens advised parents to first visit a doctor and discuss their child’s sleep disorder with them before going out to procure melatonin for their children. Parents might not know the side effects of these supplements or even the content of the pills such as the melatonin because the Good and Frig Administration Agency does not pay attention to the content because it is supposed to be a dietary supplement. However, if you absolutely have to make use of the melatonin, you might as well buy the right one which is the pharmaceutical grade, and it is the best because it has the closest dosage level to the right one.
You ought to be very surprised to discover that the melatonin level did not match what the label says. The label says that the melatonin contains 10 percent but then more than 71 percent of all the drugs exceed that in content. Some of them even contained as much as 5 times what the label said, and some of them about 26 percent contained serotonin.
So at the end of the day, given the facts in this article, parents are going to have to make a choice. Do they continue with the quick fix melatonin knowing the long-term health risks to their children or do they give the more traditional methods a try? Left to me, I would advise parents to try keeping to a sleep schedule, avoid feeding their children anything with sugar in the evening to keep them less lively and to wear them out with activities. Whatever you choose, just remember to keep your child’s wellbeing first and foremost.