Use of melatonin to sleep in children, recommendations of pediatricians

The day means activity, the night rest. After a whole day full of things to do, the body needs disconnection and for that, nothing better than sleep the hours recommended by the specialists. Melatonin, a hormone produced in our body during the dark phase of the day, is of great importance in this mission.

The function is to facilitate that the person can sleep regulating the sleep-wake rhythm. Its presence in the blood varies during the day, being greater during the dark phase of the day, and less during the light phase, thus creating the circadian rhythm that is consolidated after 5 or 6 months of life. In those minors with sleep problems, it is also possible to choose to provide melatonin externally, a practice for which the Spanish Association of Pediatrics, AEP, gives the following advice.

When to supply melatonin

AEP experts recommend giving melatonin to the youngest children to facilitate the start of rest when it is hindered by disturbance of the sleep-wake rhythm. Your application should always be indicated by a pediatrician or a sleep specialist to monitor its use in terms of dosage, indications and duration of treatment.

Its use is discouraged in children under 6 months. From this age, its efficacy has been demonstrated as a regulator of the sleep-wake rhythm, that is, being awake and sleeping. The recommended amount of melatonin ranges from 1 to 3 mg per day. It is not advisable to extend the treatment beyond 4 weeks in infants. In older children, it can be used for a longer time, always under the recommendation of the specialist.

On the other hand, from AEP it is advisable not to only supply melatonin. The treatment with this hormone It must be accompanied by other sleep hygiene practices. The purpose should be to create healthy rest routines in the smallest of the house.

Sleep hygiene

Although melatonin can help to solve rest problems and allow the child to sleep the necessary hours, parents can also bet on introducing good sleep hygiene through various practices. Here are some tips to achieve this purpose:

- Do not take exciting substances during the afternoon or at the end of the day. Sugary drinks or with a component of caffeine should be reduced to the maximum, the best option is always water.

- Light and complete dinner A copious dinner is usually translated into a long digestion and trouble falling asleep, falling short will make the appetite appear in the middle of the night. Finding the middle point is the key.

- Perform exercise during the day. Sports practices ensure a feeling of tiredness at the end of the day, yes, we must avoid them in the last hours of the day as it would mean the activation of the body.

- No extended naps. Half an hour is more than enough for a nap. It is also not recommended to nap during the evening.

- Maintain regular sleep schedules and go to bed at the same time. In case there is a problem to get to sleep, it is recommended to go to another room and perform a relaxing activity like reading. In the case of parents, they can accompany their children and tell them a story.

- No stimulants in the room. Televisions, game consoles, computers, any device that can activate the child's mind should be restricted.

Damián Montero

Video: Melatonin Dosing For Infants and Children

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