Last year, Kristen Bell, the voice of Anna in "Frozen," said she found that gummies containing melatonin helped her young children sleep more peacefully. But a recent government report says last year there was a 500% increase in the number of poison center calls involving kids eating melatonin gummies.
We hope Kristin’s kids dodged that bullet.
Melatonin is a brain hormone produced in response to darkness. It helps control a person's circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock) and stimulates sleep.
From 2012 to 2021, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that more than 4,000 children were hospitalized after ingesting melatonin (either accidently or intentionally) and two died while at home.
What accounts for the increased risk these supplements pose to kids?
Harvard researchers recently discovered that 22 of the 25 melatonin supplements they tested were mislabeled. According to their research published in JAMA, some contained up to 347% more melatonin than claimed.
This reinforces the risks a 2017 study found: 26% of those tested supplements contained (unlabeled) the neurotransmitter/hormone serotonin, increased levels of which can cause shivering, fever, even seizures.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says that there isn't enough conclusive research on melatonin's long-term effects on children to recommend it.
To help your kids sleep well, make sure they get plenty of physical activity daily, and don't drink sugary beverages or eat sugar-added foods.
Turn off digital devices an hour before bedtime, read them a story, have a darkened bedroom, and use only red wavelength nightlights.