Melatonin and children: advice from a sleep specialist

child insomnia melatonin
(Natalia Deksbakh/Shutterstock)

There is evidence that melatonin — an over-the-counter synthetic form of the melatonin hormone our brains naturally produce to help us fall asleep — can shorten the time to fall asleep in children with insomnia, including children with ADHD, autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. But there is much less evidence melatonin helps children stay asleep, even in its extended-release forms. In addition, there are many reasons why children may have trouble falling asleep; anxiety, restless legs symptoms or a too-early bedtime are just a few.

In a conversation with our sister blog Thriving, Judith Owens, MD, director of the Sleep Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, answered several questions about melatonin’s safety and benefits in children.

Read Owens’s advice on Thriving for families asking about melatonin.