Saturday, September 28, 2013

What is Melatonin & Does it Really Work?

If you have a child with ADHD or have it as an adult, I'm sure one time or another you have heard someone mention using melatonin to help with problems sleeping. But, some questions probably go through your mind like: What is melatonin? How does it work? Is it safe to use? Etc. Well, here are answers to some/most of the questions you may have, as I did too.

What is Melatonin??

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland, which is a small gland in the brain. Our melatonin levels are what controls or sleep and wake cycles. It has also been known as the "hormone of darkness" because it's levels are highest at night, when it's dark. When our bodies produces more we get tired and sleep and when there are lower levels we wake up.

How does Melatonin control sleeping and waking??

You see, our bodies all have their own internal clock which tells us when to sleep and when to wake up. Often, when on a schedule (like our kids' school times or our work schedule), our bodies will still get tired and awake around the same times on our days off without even having our alarms and bed times. This is our internal clock working. To do this, it controls how much melatonin our body makes. Generally, our melatonin levels will start to rise in the mid-late evening, remaining high throughout the night and dropping early in the morning causing us to wake. Our body uses light to help us with when to produce more melatonin. By using the sunlight, when the sun begins to set, our body starts producing melatonin and continues to while it is dark. When the sun begins to rise our body naturally lowers the levels of melatonin and no longer produces it as much. 

Does Melatonin help with ADHD??

Though melatonin has no known effectiveness on ADHD symptoms, some research does show that it may offer benefits to ADHD children who take stimulants. Children and adults with ADHD will often also have issues with sleeping like bad sleeping habits and troubles falling asleep. Studies have noted an improvement in sleep problems including falling asleep quicker as well as waking less through the night in those taking melatonin as a sleep aid

Using Melatonin for sleep... 

My Kaylee (5yr) sleeping with Wolfie
Since it is our bodies natural sleep aid, it's no wonder that those having troubles sleeping turn to OTC (over-the-counter) melatonin supplements for help. Actually, I found a Spanish study in which concluded melatonin to be better at getting people to sleep than other sleep aid medications. Taking 1/2-1 hour before bed has been said to help fall asleep and stay asleep. Some parents swear by using melatonin for their ADHD child's sleeping. You can find melatonin in tablet, chewable and liquid form, so getting one that is comfortable for your child to take is easier.  

Is OTC "over-the-counter" Melatonin Safe?? 

Naturally, I always suggest talking to your doctor before taking any new medicine and to see if melatonin may be right for you or your child's sleeping problems. In most cases however, melatonin supplements are safe to use in low doses and for short term usage. Remember, you don't want to give your body too much of anything, even if it is natural. 

Does Melatonin have any Side Effects?? 

Yes, as with just about any medicine/supplement, melatonin does have some possible side effects. Possible side effects with melatonin include morning grogginess, daytime sleepiness, confusion, sleep walking, headaches, vivid dreams and abdominal discomfort. Always monitor your child for any possible side effects when trying something new.

Where can I buy it??

Since melatonin is an OTC medication, you can usually get it at most pharmacies in your area. You can also order it online right at our Child ADHD Store through Amazon by clicking here.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment with any additional questions as well as any experiences you have had with using melatonin below!!

Until next time!


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