Dr. Peter Nieman, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and host of Healthy Kids Canada, points out that as many as 25 percent of children have difficulty falling asleep. Although the use of low doses of melatonin to help children sleep seems to be safe and effective, more research is needed to answer lingering questions. As with any dietary supplement, only give your child melatonin under a doctor’s direction.
The pineal gland is a small, pine cone-shaped organ located in the brain. It secretes the hormone known as melatonin. The hormone helps the body maintain its circadian rhythm — the internal clock that determines a person’s sleep-wake cycle. Darkness stimulates secretion of the hormone. Despite children having the highest levels of nighttime melatonin, some children do not produce enough of the hormone, which may be why they have sleep problems. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the use of melatonin supplements may reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, although research findings on its effectiveness have been mixed.