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Consumer Reports: Is Melatonin Safe and Effective for Kids? Here's What the Evidence Says.

By Ashley Abramson

Up to 25 percent of kids and adolescents have trouble falling and staying asleep, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If bedtime is a struggle in your home, you may be wondering whether giving your child a melatonin supplement could help. 

In fact, according to a Consumer Reports nationally representative survey (PDF) of 3,070 adults conducted in June and July 2022, a total of 10 percent of people with kids under 18 at home say at least one of those kids takes melatonin, including 11 percent of those with children 2 to 4 years old. 

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland, a small structure at the center of the brain. In people with normal sleep-wake cycles, the body starts secreting melatonin about an hour before bedtime, says Craig Canapari, MD, director of the Yale Pediatric Sleep Medicine Program. This signals to the body that it’s time to sleep.

In many countries, melatonin is available only with a prescription. But in the U.S., it is sold over the counter as a supplement. 

Research suggests that melatonin taken in small doses at certain times can help older kids with delayed sleep cycles, where they consistently go to bed late and wake up late. 

Kids with sleep-onset insomnia, who usually take longer than 20 to 30 minutes to fall asleep at night, may also benefit from melatonin’s sleep-inducing effects, according to Anna E. Esparham, MD, a pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.


Read the full article via Consumer Reports 

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