The Miracle of Melatonin

First, let me just be clear: I’m no doctor. I’m not an herbalist, specialist, pharmacist, psychiatrist, or any other sort of ‘ist.’ I’m just a mom, and expressing my opinions. So read at your own risk. :)

Nicole has had sleep problems for… gosh, I don’t know. A long time. She was a wonderful, amazing sleeper as a baby, then she hit the toddler age. That was the end of sleep for us.

She grew out of naps very early: meaning that around the age of 2 to 2.5, if she had a nap she’d be up well into the night. Unfortunately, it is very hard, even now, to keep her from sleeping in the car. Or falling asleep in random places at random (late) times. 

This means on any given night, she is almost up till 11 p.m. or later. 
Unless, by some miracle, she didn’t have a nap. Then she might be asleep as early as eight. But if you put her in her room with her older sister, Rebecca it would still be a late night. 

Usually we spend our nights tag teaming the girls until I eventually ask Gary to go lay down by Nicole. More often than not, Gary would fall asleep before Nicole would.

{This meant Gary and I almost never get time alone together.}

This summer, the problem became even worse. While we weren’t running errands in the car as often in the afternoons, she and her sister would play and play. Then, because Rebecca and Jordan are home from school, Rebecca would sleep in until 10 a.m. or later. Nicole? She’d sleep maybe till nine. Basically I was spending every minute of every day with Nicole. 
No breaks. 

I read on a blog about something called “Chamomile Calm.” After Nicole took a late, long nap (from 5-7 p.m.), I ran to the herbal section of the grocery store in desperation. I had even been considering taking her to the doctor to see if a sleep medication might be necessary, but I liked the idea of trying something natural first. 

I never did find Chamomile Calm, but I did bring home a bottle of Melatonin. My sister used it for a long time with her special needs children, but eventually made the switch to a prescription strength medication. 

Melatonin Tabs 1 MG NBY Size: 90

According to the National Library of Medicine

Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. Melatonin used as medicine is usually made synthetically in a laboratory. It is most commonly available in pill form, but melatonin is also available in forms that can be placed in the cheek or under the tongue. This allows the melatonin to be absorbed directly into the body.
People use melatonin to adjust the body’s internal clock. It is used for jet lag, for adjusting sleep-wake cycles in people whose daily work schedule changes (shift-work disorder), and for helping blind people establish a day and night cycle. 

It also adds,

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…
Sleep problems associated with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Limited research suggests melatonin might improve insomnia in children with ADHD who are taking stimulants. But improved sleep does not seem to decrease symptoms of ADHD. 

How is Melatonin working for us so far? I’m crossing my fingers and really hoping that I’m not jinxing myself by blogging about this, but so far so good. We give it to Nicole about an hour before bedtime. It seems to allow her to let herself get sleepy, rather than fighting it for hours. Because of the sleep situation in our home (all three girls in one small room), I still let her fall asleep in my bed, then Gary carries her to her room. 

It’s not perfect: if she has a long nap, she’ll still be up fairly late. But overall, her average time to be asleep is 9 p.m., which is a true miracle in our house! In fact, it’s worked so well we also give it to our other problematic sleeper, Rebecca. Even Jordan has requested it on nights he is having a hard time falling asleep, and I’ve also taken it on days where a lot of caffeine was necessary. :) I find it interesting that while there isn’t sufficient evidence, a correlation has at least been noted between ADHD and the use of Melatonin. Rebecca is tentatively diagnosed ADHD, and I know I have ADHD, and I have a feeling Nicole will one-day-down-the-road go in for diagnosis for ADHD as well. All of us have sleep issues. (There’s your evidence, NLM!) I have personally noticed a great increase of ADHD symptoms when I have a lack of sleep (like, tell the kids to feed themselves cuz I’m going back to bed sort of symptoms).

There are, of course, potential side effects of Melatonin. I’ve heard things from headaches and dizziness to my neighbor reporting her son experiencing bad dreams after a period of being on Melatonin. So far, we haven’t noticed anything, though I’m aware of the symptoms and definitely watching for them. 
 For now, Melatonin is our “miracle drug.” It may not be necessary in the future, or we may choose to move on to something else. Last night, thoguh, was the best night we’ve had so far:
 All four children, asleep by 9 p.m.
Gary and I were actually able to spend time together, talking, rather than doing the bedtime battle. As a couple that can’t afford many date nights, the time alone together was a gift we very much needed. 
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4 Responses to The Miracle of Melatonin

  1. A "Dandelion" mom says:

    One reason we switched my son off melatonin was he was having severe nightmares. But that was after about 2 years of regular use.

  2. newbiemama says:

    Thanks for the info! I'll definitely be watching that with Nicole, but so far, so sleepy. :)

  3. Sharla says:

    Five of our kids use Melatonin. Three of them have to have it or they can't fall asleep. For two of them, it is due to their Special Needs. I used to feel so badly about giving it to them but after speaking to several friends I trust including a nurse, a pharmacist, and a naturopath, I no longer feel guilty about it. Sleep is something they need for their emotional and physical health.

    I'm glad that so far it is working with your daughter. You may know this already, but it won't work unless she is doing something quiet and calming between when she takes it and when she goes to bed. We give it to our kids about 20 minutes before bed and then have story time or snuggle time.


  4. newbiemama says:

    Sharla, thanks for the tips! It can certainly feel like a parental failure, needing the extra help to get your kids to sleep. Some kids just NEED it though. My daughter loves to snuggle in bed with us while my hubby and I watch TV and I scratch her back. It's nice for her too, because she gets those quiet moments alone with mommy & daddy. Those are few and far between in our house!

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