Melatonin Unsafe for Kids?

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

Last week (Jan 6, 2017) the NY Times asked the question that millions of parents have been asking for years, “Is the sleep aid melatonin safe for children and adults?”

You can read part of the article pasted below or the original at the NYTimes.

Here are a few things that you should know about melatonin:

Melatonin is a hormone – and like any hormone, taking it on a regular basis means that your body is likely to stop making it’s own and you’ll become dependent on the external source (this is how people become “addicted” to melatonin and can’t sleep without it).

All of the “natural” melatonin supplements on the market are actually synthetic hormones – they’re not natural at all.

Melatonin helps only about half of the people who try it to fall asleep 5-10 minutes faster – but not to sleep longer or better. In fact, many people report the very common “melatonin hangover” where residual unmetabolized melatonin is “leftover” the next morning – resulting in you feeling groggy and sluggish.

The best use of melatonin is for short-term (2-3 days) treatment of jet lag or to recover from shift work – but melatonin is not meant for regular use in adults or children.

If you’re not sleeping well, there are a lot of potential reasons – but the primary cause of your restlessness is likely to be chronic stress. Stress Cookies use a natural plant-derived precursor of melatonin to reduce stress, boost mood, and improve sleep quality.

Phytotonin (“phyto” = “plant”) increases serotonin levels during the day (for improved mood) and increases melatonin levels at night (for improved sleep quality). Because Phytotonin is not a synthetic hormone, but a natural building block, your body only synthesizes as much serotonin/melatonin as it needs – so no more “melatonin hangover” to fight through the next day.

Our whole family – kids included – enjoy Stress Cookies to reduce stress, beat burnout, improve focus, elevate mood, and enhance sleep quality. They look and taste like “cookies” – but they’re very much healthy snacks with high protein (10 grams from whey/egg), healthy fats (coconut/avocado oil), and smart carbs (prebiotics). Give them a try – feeling good never tasted so good!

Thanks for reading,



Is the Sleep Aid Melatonin Safe for Children and Adults?

By KEVIN MCCARTHY date published JANUARY 6, 2017 6:39 AM

QUESTION: How safe is melatonin to take regularly for sleep problems? Are there more risks for children versus adults?

ANSWER: There’s a dearth of safety data for melatonin, but there are a number of potential concerns, especially for children.

“I think we just don’t know what the potential long-term effects are, particularly when you’re talking about young children,” said Dr. Judith Owens, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Parents really need to understand that there are potential risks.”

The pineal gland in the brain ramps up production of the hormone melatonin in the evening, as light fades, to encourage sleep, and it turns down production in the early morning hours. Synthetic forms of the hormone are also sold as a dietary supplement; because melatonin is found in some foods, like barley, olives and walnuts, it is regulated as a nutritional supplement rather than a drug, as most other hormones are.

In adults, studies have found melatonin to be effective for jet lag and some sleep disorders. It is also hugely popular as a sleep aid for children and can be useful for sleep disorders among those with attention-deficit disorders or autism, Dr. Owens said. “I rarely see a family come in with a child with insomnia who hasn’t tried melatonin,” she said. “I would say at least 75 percent of the time when they come in to see us” at the sleep clinic, “they’re either on melatonin or they’ve tried it in the past.”

While short-term use of the hormone is generally considered safe, it can have side effects, including headaches, dizziness and daytime grogginess, which could pose a risk for drivers. Melatonin can also interfere with blood pressure, diabetes and blood thinning medications.

Less is known about this potent hormone’s effects in children. Some research suggests it could, at least in theory, have effects on developing reproductive, cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems.

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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