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Melatonin for sleep – what about children

Reduced alertness, weak concentration, sleeping problems, poorer school grades. Melatonin often comes across as a life saver.

If tossing and turning all night long is a daily reality for your child, you are not alone in this plight. Professionals estimate that about a quarter of youngsters in the United States suffer from some sort of sleeping problems. It has already reached the epidemic proportions and parents are under pressure to do something to save their children and themselves from the implications of sleep deprivation. No one likes to deal with irritability, tiredness and crankiness that results from having a bad night's sleep or not sleeping a wink. Add to this the fact that tweens and teens go through an intense period of growth on a number of levels and any sort of interference in the process of replenishment and recovery is bound to have terrible consequences. Poorer school grades, reduced alertness, weak concentration, interrupted physical development and many other effects raise hair on parents' heads as they want nothing but the best for their offspring. And yet they do not care to sleep healthily. There is little wonder that many of them reach out to melatonin for sleep.

Available as a diet supplement, it is a synthetic form of a bodily hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain in response to darkness. It is the main ingredient of a system that informs the rest of the body that sleep is approaching, but a modern lifestyle has resulted in serious interruption of this natural process. This is what lies at the foundation of the stellar rise in sales of melatonin as a sleeping aid, including for children.

If you browse internet message boards and blog comment sections in which parents share their experiences with their sleep-deprived children, melatonin often comes across as a life saver. Many have gone through a painstaking process of setting the stage for a perfect sleeping routine, devoid of television, computer or food consumption before falling asleep, to no avail. They have also excluded medical reasons for their offspring's problems. Administering tablets has rarely been a first choice option, but something of a last resort solution considering the fact that there is less supervision about these products than about full-blown medications. Importantly, in their own words, melatonin works wonders with troubled children, helping with sleep initiation and maintenance. There are fewer comments about what it does to daytime alertness and the ability to wake up in time.

While parents are largely ecstatic, especially those who have been though a lot of hassle with their sleep-deprived tweens and teens, pediatricians and other medical professionals are more skeptical about melatonin for sleep. Many altogether discourage from giving this synthetic form of a hormone to children below the age of 10 due to too many unknowns related to its use. Another strong suggestion is never to exceed 3 milligrams and resort for melatonin for sleep only occasionally. Many of the claims of melatonin producers are hard to confirm with
researchFeature Articles, but experience and good practice show that it is capable of helping achieve a more peaceful life with your sleep-troubled children without endangering their health.

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