A good night’s sleep is a cornerstone of health for kids and adults alike. And if your child is struggling to sleep every night, it goes without saying that you’re going to be struggling, too… with effects that carry over well into the next day.
This is especially true for kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who struggle with “externalizing” behaviors like hyperactivity and aggression. Sleep loss aggravates these behaviors and can be a drain on quality of life for the whole family.
Now throw a global pandemic into the mix—with families forced to be together 24/7 for months at a time, while dealing with homeschooling, lack of childcare, and somehow having to meet the needs of their employers on top of it all.
Yes, it’s a stressful time for everyone. But parents with special needs children are in especially dire need of support, wherever they can get it. Which is why I was very happy to come across the article I want to share with you today.
According to a new study, melatonin improved externalizing behavior scores among autistic kids by threefold. And as you might imagine, parental quality of life and sleep satisfaction increased right alongside it.
Even better, it only took three weeks of melatonin supplementation to see benefits—and they continued, consistently, thereafter.
In fact, after a full year, children taking melatonin were sleeping more than one hour longer than before they started.
They also fell asleep nearly 49 minutes faster. And nighttime awakenings also dropped by more than half—which is a win for any parent.
Better sleep at any age
I’ve always advocated for melatonin supplementation—not just as a sleep aid, but for general health, too—so these results impressed me for plenty of reasons.
But the improvements it delivered to the quality of life for parents were especially exciting. Too little attention is given to the suffering that caregivers can experience—and that’s never been more true than now.
Of course, I still have my concerns. Like the fact that kids’ bodies still produce ample melatonin on their own, for example—which means you’ll want to be more judicious with supplementation. (And definitely don’t assume that it will be a solution for every child.)
Along those lines, it’s also important to keep expectations in check where results are concerned. Because while we know that melatonin is a great sleep inducer, it won’t necessarily do much to keep your kids (or you) asleep—even though this study pointed to benefits in that department.
Either way, as this study shows, you’ll want to look for a time released version. As for dosage? Well, in this study, researchers assigned doses of 2.5 mg or 10 mg, depending on the child’s body weight. I recommend starting low, and slowly increasing the dosage, if needed—and always check in with your child’s pediatrician for guidance. (For adults, I recommend a starting dose of 3 mg at bedtime. You can also slowly increase the dosage in increments if need be, just never exceed 15 mg.)
And remember, the biggest hindrance to healthy melatonin release, regardless of your age, is light—especially blue light from your television, tablet, or smartphone.
So if you or your child is struggling to sleep at night, be sure to unplug from electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. It really is one of the smartest things you can do.
P.S. For additional ways to enjoy better quality of sleep, I encourage you to check out my Perfect Sleep Protocol. To learn more about this innovative online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!
“Melatonin Benefits Kids With Autism, Ups Parents’ Quality of Life.” Medscape Medical News, 04/15/20. (medscape.com/viewarticle/911804)