Melatonin to help an older child sleep? - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-01-2011, 07:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a 5-year-old who still does not sleep all night regularly.  Lately she has been waking multiple times a night, and dh and I are about at our wits end.  We also have an 11-month-old baby who still, obviously, wakes.  My mom was telling me about a friend of hers whose daughter, about the same age, has ADHD and had a really difficult time sleeping, and they were giving her melatonin shortly before bed.  Supposedly the melatonin has made a HUGE difference.  My dd sounds a lot like this girl in terms of behavior, and I wouldn't be surprised if my dd were at some point to be suspected or labelled as having ADHD.  But regardless of the source of the issues, I was wondering if anyone out there has tried melatonin for helping a child to sleep?  Did it work?  How much would you give?  Are there any side effects or potential risks I should know about?

 

Thanks!

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Old 10-01-2011, 01:45 PM
 
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I'm currently using melatonin with my 7 year old. My understanding of how melatonin works is that it helps a child fall asleep but it may not help them stay asleep necessarily. Our 7 year is having real trouble falling asleep and the melatonin is working wonders. Without it, she's up until 11 or later (despite being in bed by 9). With it, she's asleep by 9:30. She still wakes in the night however.

What we've taught our kids to do (and we had to do it with both of them) is rather than lying in bed screaming for us, they could bring their pillows and blanket and come sleep on the floor next to us. Dd does that every.single.night. She's always been a lousy sleeper; she reverse cycled and got most of her nutrition at night by nursing, so she woke every 2 hours until she was 2. We then moved her to her own bed in a room with her brother, and she'd wake and dive into bed with us. By the time, she was 4, we had to stop co-sleeping for a variety of reasons (dh found out he had sleep apnea, dd gets hot and kicks off the blankets, which also means kicking the blankets off us, and she was getting too tall to fit). So, now she starts in her own bed. For a couple of years she mostly slept there, but in the last year, she'll come to her nest on our floor about 2 am. Ds (age 10) does it 1-2 times a week.


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Old 10-01-2011, 11:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That is really good to know.  She doesn't have trouble falling asleep, just staying asleep.

 

I wonder if I could get her to come in and lay on our floor, or if she'd be too scared to walk down the hall in the dark...

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Old 10-02-2011, 02:39 PM
 
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We keep the light on in the hall. And it's 3 steps from dd's door to ours. The light on in the hall is a small price to pay (we have a compact flourescent) for not having to get out of bed between 2 and 4 am every day!

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Old 10-03-2011, 10:07 AM
 
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I would not use melatonin regularly, either for myself or my child. I live in Germany, and melatonin is not sold OTC here. I'm not even sure if you can get a prescription for it.

 

Melatonin is a hormone which is produced by the brain in accordance with light and dark. Darkness is the signal for the body to produce it. You know how some people get depressed in the winter months (I think it's called Seasonal Affective Disorder)? And it has been theorized that it is the effect of so little sunlight? Well, some people who take melatonin too much end up getting horribly depressed in the same way because they are artificially stimulating their brain in the "dark" cycle more than it would on its own.

 

I used to take it a few times a month, and noticed that I would get depressed way more than I would normally. It took me awhile to put 2 and 2 together, but I just so happened to google why melatonin is deemed unsafe by some (for example EU governments), and after reading about how it works and causes depression, I realized that was why I was getting depressed. So now I only take it when I travel back to the US and face really bad jetlag, and only for a few days and that's it.

 

Personally I would not give a child melatonin. If you must, monitor his or her moods carefully. I would rather recommend going to someone who practices Chinese medicine or a naturopath or chiropractor, if you're looking for natural solutions.

 

Good luck!


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Old 10-04-2011, 07:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you P.J., that's the type of information I'm looking for!  I didn't want to rush right out and give her a "miracle cure" without having some good background.  At this point I'm really backing off from the idea of melatonin anyway because of what Lynn said about it not helping them stay asleep.  I don't need something to help her fall asleep, just stay asleep.

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Old 10-09-2011, 09:45 AM
 
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What about trying a magnesium/calcium supplement before bed? We use Natural Calm. DD (5 yo) calls it her "bedtime lemonade drink" (we have the lemon flavor, sweetened with stevia.)

 

I personally have a hard time staying asleep--it has always been my form of insomnia. Natural Calm has helped me immensely!


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