Melatonin is a natural sleep hormone that our body produces when it is getting close to being time for bed. When it gets dark outside, our body naturally starts to produce it in order to signal us that it is time to relax. (This is one reason I highly suggest to clients to have their children’s rooms pitch black for nap time; Because it helps our body naturally relax and get into that sleep state more easily).
Melatonin supplements have become increasingly popular over the years, but most people don’t understand that it isn’t a vitamin that actually makes you fall asleep or stay asleep, it only helps your body get into that state of “quiet wakefulness”.
I can admit that I will sometimes take Melatonin, but it isn’t something that we should take on a regular basis, and in my opinion, it is something that we need to make an absolute last resort for kids and only if their doctor is suggesting it for them. What I witness professionally with child sleep issues is that it tends to do more with needing a healthy bedtime routine, a better schedule throughout the day, and a more conducive sleep environment that will positively affect their sleep and not the need to put them on extra/unnecessary hormones. Everybody’s bodies should naturally create enough Melatonin to promote healthy sleep, but there are definitely ways that we can encourage this production.
- Keep the lights low at night. For children bedtime should be around 6pm-8pm and it might still be light outside, so try to keep blinds closed and lights low in the evening, for at least an hour prior to bedtime.
- Reduce screen time in the evening. Computers, TV’s & phone’s all produce blue or green light, and these types of light reduce our melatonin production, so try to limit using these items at least an hour before bed.
- Get plenty of rays during the day. Allow your body to get sunshine in the morning/afternoon to help your body stay on its proper circadian rhythm.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions about healthy sleep habits.