Sleep Aids for Kids: Melatonin, Natural Supplements, and Alternatives

Last updated: September 23rd, 2023

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Sleep Aids for Kids

Sleep problems are estimated to occur in approximately 20% to 30% of children. Parents and caregivers often turn to prescription medications, supplements, and over-the-counter drugs to address these issues. But what are the benefits and risks of using sleep aids for kids?

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that prepares the body for sleep. Typically, the body ramps up melatonin production when it becomes dark. People can also take melatonin supplements to help regulate their sleep-wake cycle. Although more research is needed, evidence suggests that melatonin may also help children with insomnia, including those living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism spectrum disorder.

Is Melatonin Safe for Kids?

There is not enough research to say whether melatonin is safe for kids. Short-term side effects may include headaches, agitation, bedwetting, dizziness, and daytime sleepiness. As with any medication, side effects, drug interactions, and contraindications should be carefully considered before giving melatonin to children.

Natural Supplements for Sleep

Natural supplements, such as valerian root, can help improve sleep latency. Herbal teas, including chamomile and lavender, may also help kids relax and sleep. It's important to speak with a pediatrician before giving kids any kind of supplement.

Medication for Sleep Problems in Kids

Sleep medication is sometimes used to help children with insomnia and other sleep disorders. These medications can be habit-forming, and long-term use in children may be associated with risks, so they should only be used in limited circumstances and for short-term use.

Alternatives to Medication and Supplements

Sometimes the best approach to inspire sleep is to implement a regular nighttime routine to help your child wind down before bed. Setting limits on caffeine and screen time, which can both interfere with sleep, is another important step. Parents may also want to consider getting their child’s bedroom ready for sleep, ensuring a comfortable sleeping environment which includes making sure the room is dark and at a comfortable temperature.


Finding the best sleep aid for your child can be a difficult decision. When considering medication or supplements, it’s important to discuss the risks and benefits with a healthcare professional. Non-medical alternatives such as implementing bedtime routines, setting limits on caffeine and screen time, and creating a comfortable sleeping environment should also be explored. With the right approach, your child will be getting the best sleep possible.

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