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Ethical Issue of Sleep Aid

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I am posting this here because I want to discuss the underlying ethical issue and not the sleep issues.

19 mo DD doesn't sleep very well. A good night she wakes up 3-4 times. Most nights it is more like 6-7. This doesn't include the 5:30-8 am wake-up-a-thon we participate in every morning where I can't even begin to count how many time she asks to nurse.

I waiver between having made my peace with the situation and searching searching for a "solution." The only thing we have come across that seems to have a direct correlation between regular and good night's sleep is a product made by Herbs for Kids called Chamomile Calm. When we give her this before bed, she sleeps until we get in bed, wakes up about 3 times during the night and doesn't do the morning wake-up-a-thon. It is really nice.

I have avoided using the Chamomile Calm nightly because it just seems like drugging her. At the same time the decent night's rest really makes an impact on my mood the next day. It feels good to sleep! I fear that if we gave this stuff to her every night for a couple of months, then we were to stop, she'd be unable to relax on her own.

Do you think using an herbal supplement regularly is like drugging her? Is there something wrong with that? I tend to lean toward, yes there is, but there is a greater good in having a well rested mom and kid. If she slept like that every night, we could stop considering night weaning.
post #2 of 13
Well, here's one way to think about it.... If YOU were all wound up and not sleeping well at all and found that drinking herbal tea before bed really helped you sleep, you'd do it right? So perhaps you could extend that to your dd -- what choice do you think she would make? If you feel the supplement is safe, I wouldn't worry about her never figuring out how to fall asleep without it.... I mean, she hasn't really figured it out in 19 months, right? And some day (ah, some day) she will sleep just like everyone else.... Just my thoughts.
post #3 of 13
I guess I wonder how long term you'd have to go with the product. I mean, once she becomes more relaxed around bedtime, she may begin to make positive associations with sleep time...from there, things could improve to the point where you no longer need the herbal remedy.
I have used chamomile tea for ds at bedtime--mostly when he has a cold and I am not giving him dairy. I found too that it relaxed him.
I have also used both chamomile and valerian myself. I find that valerian can really mean business. I guess if I were in your place I'd give the chamomile a good long try first.
It can be argued that warm milk is "drugging" a little one, too. Have you also tried aromatherapy? I have used lavender in the past as well--a hanky with some oil by my pillow. This has been tested, I think on seniors, and it has been shown to promote more restful sleep. Old timers are known for their wacko sleep habits, too.
Just a couple of thoughts. I think trying to improve your kid's sleep is a legitimate concern. Good sleep helps us to process what happened during the day, and be ready for the next day. It's not just for your own rest that it's important.
post #4 of 13
Good question - ds has some really bad nights involving lots of moaning and crying out and waking up, nightmares too.

I swear that things work opposite with him - bath at night = hours til bed time (bath during day = immediate nap : ). Lavender, cold wet sock with wool sock over, Valerian super calm, St John's Wort flower essence, Room to Rest flower essence -- all of these seem to have a negative impact on his sleep. (I've also read valerian can have the opposite affect, but I'm tired of spending money on remedies that don't work...)


I wonder about the herbs too - - how long do you keep doing it? Are herbs in a tincture or elixer form as "safe" or "minimal" as sipping on some herbal tea? I'll be interested to see other responses. I go through the same thing with tylenol... I hate to use it, but homeopathic teething remedies just do not work with him (I've tried 3!) and tylenol does help him get through the worst of it. Then I find myself giving it to him at bedtime pre-emptively... I hate it.

Hi grumo!

edit edit edit... think before typing...
post #5 of 13
Grumo--you could try giving her chamomile tea instead of the herb tincture every night. Chamomile is a mild, lovely herb as herbs go--valerian is much more powerful in terms of herbs as "drugs." We often give dd a sippy cup of slightly diluted warm chamomile tea in the evening.

I say go with what works. You won't need it forever, believe me. Whatever gets you through with a little less exhaustion--do it.
post #6 of 13
As a pharmacologist, I can tell you that herbs *are* drugs. They come in different formulations than most drugs, but they are drugs. With the added concern that they haven't been tested, you don't know what the dose is in the formulation you buy, and you don't know what they interact with.

Once in a while, when you need a break, a good night's rest for you and your daughter, I can't see anyone faulting you for using it. But I would definitely NOT use it every day.

Don't get me wrong: I love herbal teas and I think there are some wonderful herbal medicines out there. I've used them myself. But I would not give them to my DD on a regular basis.
post #7 of 13
No kidding, chamomile tea, too? I mean I know and agree about herbs in general and some you need to be more careful about than others, but a mild herbal tea?
post #8 of 13
I wasn't clear on whether the OP was talking about a herbal tea preparation, or a capsule. If it's a tea and it has that much of an effect on the child's sleep, and if similar teas do not have the same effect (demonstrating it's not just the calming effect of drinking a hot beverage), then the child is getting a significant dose of herb. For once in a while use I wouldn't be concerned, but not every night.
post #9 of 13
what's in it, and what's the dose?

edited to add: here it is http://herbsforkids.botlab.com/produ...php/14_96.html

grumo, i wonder, do you have an herbalist or naturalist you could ask about how potent a dose this is for a baby the size of yours? What does aviva jill romm say in her book about natural family health? (can't remember the title, i have it downstairs,will try to look up what she says tomorrow)
post #10 of 13
As it doesn't seem to have valerian in it I think it is ok but I am not sure I would do it everynight.
post #11 of 13
I have read in herbal book that chamomile is safe but not to use it on a daily basis for child or adult because you can develop and allergy to ragweed. I don't know if other have read this and if you need me to I can go find the source
post #12 of 13
Originally posted by Piglet68
... herbs *are* drugs. They come in different formulations than most drugs, but they are drugs. With the added concern that they haven't been tested, you don't know what the dose is in the formulation you buy, and you don't know what they interact with.

You know, lettuce is sedative. I consider herbs to be foods with more concentrated biological/pharmacological effects. Everything has some kind of a pharm. effect. Artichokes are liver tonics, for example. Beets and plums are laxative. The list is endless. (And, yes, I know I'm not a pharmacologist. )

I use caution with everything, but chamomile is really one of the mildest "herbal medicines" out there.

That said, my parents described how when I was a kid, it just seemed like I was on a totally different schedule than they were. Finally, my father said, when they just got to the point where they could feel safe leaving me awake in my room, they went to bed and let me decide when to sleep. I was just a night owl by their way of thinking. I've since discovered that I need to either get up really really early and go to bed early (pref. with the sun) or get up at a "normal" time and take a nap in the afternoon and go to sleep at a "normal" time. I liked Spain's schedule when I lived there.
post #13 of 13
For the most part, I do not believe in manipulating the bodies of children to make things convenient for adults.

But, if your dd likes the herb or the tea, there might not be any harm. If it were my dd and I had to force her into taking it, or distract her while I ladled it in, I think that would be wrong. But if she were actually asking if she could have some, and as long as it was safe for children, I wouldn't see a problem with it.
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