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Melatonin and its effects on a child’s sleep

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infant baby boy sleeping on the couch

Melatonin is nothing but a hormone produced by the pineal glands that regulate sleep and wakefulness in us. It is stimulated through darkness and the levels of melatonin increase in our blood considerably once evening set in. Melatonin causes a state of drowsiness that makes you want to fall asleep once it gets dark. It promotes sleep and also adjusts our internal clock known as the circadian rhythm.

What melatonin does to regulate sleep?
Waking up during the day and sleeping during the night when its dark is a natural pattern of our body’s clock. Darkness is the critical factor that releases the hormone from the pea-sized pineal gland. It is the key to regulating humans sleep. The hypothalamus’ centre sends signals to various parts of our brain. Those parts, in turn, will regulate body temperature and other factors that let us fall asleep. When it’s light in the morning, the hypothalamus’ centre performs specific functions and releases stimulating hormones. It also raises body temperature which causes us to wake up and be alert. Melatonin levels rise in the blood actively, which is only during the night time. The pineal gland stays inactive most of the day. The raised levels of melatonin after dark cause drowsiness which ultimately leads to sleep.

How to use melatonin naturally for your child
Since melatonin is released when it gets dark, the usage of television and mobile phones cause serious harm. The light emitting from them disrupts the secretion of that hormone. TV and any bright light after bedtime should be avoided entirely. You can create capital sleeping conditions for your child by shrouding them in complete darkness. You will have to minimise the amount of light once it’s dark to maximise using melatonin. Try and take your children out of the house during this time of the day to keep them away from televisions, tablets or mobile phones.

Melatonin supplements and fixing sleep problems
Taking melatonin supplement for your child shouldn’t be your next resort if their sleeping patterns are not regular. There will be children who have low levels of melatonin and maybe then supplements are an option. But don’t do this without professional medical advice. Children with proper levellers of melatonin do not need supplements. Also, there is no conclusive research about the long-term effects of melatonin which leads to certain hesitation amongst the parents. So, how to fix problematic sleeping problems? With a little more patience, encouragement and the right habits things will take a turn for good. Regulating your child’s environment, food and activity can help big time in fixing sleep problems. There are many gentle sleep techniques that parents can apply on a daily. Yes, it’s more comfortable to sit back and watch television after a day of stress and exhaustion. But for the sake of your children, you will have to work harder to create the sleeping pattern you deem proper for your child.

Author: InfoKids Team

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