If you or your child is having difficulty with sleep, you may be considering a supplemental form of melatonin, like melatonin gummies. Melatonin supplements are available in different forms including child-friendly, flavored gummies.
Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally produced by the pineal gland, which is located in our brains. It plays a crucial role in regulating our circadian rhythms or sleep-wake cycles, and is the hormone that is responsible for making us drowsy at nighttime. (1)
Melatonin levels in the blood are at the lowest in the morning and reach their peak at night. Production is influenced by light and darkness, letting our bodies know to release this “sleep hormone” when the sun goes down, and to stop its release when the sun rises.
Here are factors that can get in the way of the body’s ability to know when to release melatonin, which can result in difficulty trying to sleep:
Age. Melatonin production changes as we age, and the time of night that melatonin is released changes with age as well.
Technology. Exposure to blue light from screens of smartphones, laptops, television, etc. can all slow down the release of melatonin.
Nightlights. When the body senses light, it is tricked into thinking it needs to suppress the release of melatonin. This can happen often in children that use nightlights in their rooms to sleep.
Stress. Cortisol, also sometimes known as the stress hormone, also plays an important role in our circadian rhythms. When melatonin levels fall in the morning, cortisol levels are rising to help wake us up and get ready to face the day. Cortisol levels should decrease at night when melatonin is being released. However, when we’re stressed, we could be producing too much cortisol and this can actually suppress the release of melatonin.
If you or your child is having trouble sleeping, the best thing to do is to try and correct the problem naturally. This includes following proper sleep hygiene. Some things you can try include eliminating technology before bed, not using a nightlight, and use techniques to reduce stress before bed.
If these techniques aren’t working for you, you may want to consider a melatonin supplement. Since pills aren’t the best option for most kids, there are melatonin gummies available that are flavored and soft to chew.(2) There are some brands that offer flavors and packaging that appeal to children.
When choosing which kind of melatonin gummies to buy, there are a couple of things you want to look at.
Dosage. While many melatonin gummies are made specifically for children, some may actually be for adults and have a higher dosage.(3) Since the FDA considers melatonin a supplement and not a medication, there aren’t really exact dosage guidelines, so check with a doctor first, and know which dosage you’re purchasing.
Most of the melatonin gummies come in a 5mg size. Some come in 5mg or 10mg.They are often available in 30, 60 or 90 count bottles. (4)
Ingredients. You will want to look at the ingredients label since there are additives to give the melatonin gummies their kid-friendly flavors. Some gummies list corn syrup as the first ingredient and others use organic honey. Some use artificial flavoring and colors, and others are organic and natural. If your child has allergies, you’ll also want to check the label for any allergens.
Kids aren’t the only ones that can take melatonin gummies for sleep. They can be for adults too. Always check with your physician before starting any kind of supplement for you or your child.
© 2020 American Sleep Association.