Sleep problems in children can have undesirable effects on their behavior, daytime functioning, and quality of life. Children with certain conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), are more prone to sleep problems than other children.
There are no overall guidelines on the best approach to improving sleep in children. However, guidelines for specific conditions recommend behavioral treatments, such as good bedtime habits and parent education, as an initial treatment that may be supplemented with medicines.
Because there aren’t many studies on children and melatonin supplements, there is a lot we don’t know about the use of melatonin in children. For example, there are uncertainties about what dose to use and when to give it, the effects of melatonin use over long periods of time, and whether melatonin’s benefits outweigh its possible risks. Because melatonin is a hormone, it’s possible that melatonin supplements could affect hormonal development, including puberty, menstrual cycles, and overproduction of the hormone prolactin, but we don’t know for sure.
Because of these uncertainties, it’s best to work with a health care provider if you’re considering giving a child melatonin for sleep problems.