Paediatricians in Canada have warned against regular use of a natural supplement that replicates the body’s transition into sleep, claiming that the aids pose a potential health risk if taken over long period. Melatonin supplements recreate the natural hormone needed to fall asleep, and are effective in speeding up the onset of sleep. Melatonin occurs naturally when a person is exposed to darkness, and the increased production of the hormone ‘tells’ the body that it’s time to rest, lowering energy levels and causing tiredness.
Melatonin supplements, while simulating the body’s hormonal response during the evening, contain significantly higher doses than that produced naturally, in some cases up to fifty times as much. This volume of melatonin theoretically could, like other sleep aids, create a dependency when used over a long-term period and effectively reduce the chances of a child becoming able to go to sleep without taking it.
While doctors have raised concern over healthy children being given melatonin supplements on a regular basis, the benefits for children with neurological problems have been highlighted. Case studies where children with ADHD were given melatonin, combined with progressive behavioural strategies and routines at bedtime, have proven to be positive.
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