A human body is always in sync with nature. When it is daytime, our brain activates and works round the clock and when it is dark, our body prepares to rest and relax. It is all controlled by hormones. Each hormone has specific tasks assigned to them. Some of the hormones signal the body to actuate when it is the time and some signals to lay back and relax. The hormones which prompt your body to relax and rest are called Melatonin - the sleep hormones. These hormones regulate the body’s clock and let you sleep for long and wake up feeling refreshed. These put in place the sleep-wake pattern based on the exposure to light and darkness. In case the body is not able to produce the required amount of Melatonin, intake of Melatonin supplementary may become inevitable.
Production of Melatonin in the Human body:
When your child is exposed to the light, the rays pass through the retina of the eyes and reaches and activates SCN (Suprachiasmatic nucleus). It is present in the hypothalamus of the brain. It signals the body to control the temperature, hormones and other functions. This keeps your child either awake or makes him sleepy based on the exposure to light or darkness and it creates a fixed sleep-wake pattern during the 24-hour cycle.
Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland and it is released into the bloodstream around 9 pm or earlier based on when your child generally sleeps. But if melatonin is not released or released in insufficient quantity, your child will have difficulty sleeping and your child might need melatonin supplements.
Side-effects of Melatonin:
Although Melatonin is a natural hormone and in short-term, it seems to be quiet safe, it could still pose following side-effects when taken as supplements:
- Drowsiness during the day
- Irritable Mood
- Stomach pain
- Vivid dreams
- Lower body temperature
- Can also interact with other medications (such as fluvoxamine, carbamazepine, omeprazole, esomeprazole, etc)
Melatonin should not be given to children with the bleeding disorder, diabetes, high blood pressure and seizures. Taking melatonin supplements could make the symptoms worse.
At present, there are no recommended doses for Melatonin supplements. So, have a talk with your child’s paediatrician before giving your child melatonin supplements. He will suggest you the ideal dosage for your child based on his weight or age or the sleep problem your child is having. It might be anywhere between 0.5 mg to 6 mg for sleep orders.
Just like any other synthetic drugs, even melatonin supplements could elevate the hormone levels to a much higher degree than what is normally produced in the human body. A typical dosage of 1 mg to 3 mg could raise the melatonin level in the body for up to 20 times. So, if you are planning to give melatonin supplements to your child without consulting your doctor, make sure you don’t give more than 0.5 mg to your child.
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