Community Psychiatric Centers
Monroeville, Greensburg, Monessen, and Wilkinsburg Pittsburgh

September 12, 2012

Autism: Melatonin Update

Marvelous Melatonin | September 11, 2012

It seems that melatonin is becoming increasingly popular as a sleep aide. This trend stands to reason, given the anecdotal and research-based evidence that it’s effective and safe.

Drawbacks?

It would seem intuitive that it’s always best to first try behavioral approaches and more “natural approaches”. Not that melatonin isn’t “natural” (it’s a hormone that naturally exists in our bodies), but artificially increasing the levels of melatonin in our body may be something not considered the best ‘first-option.’

When melatonin is something to be considered

Consider melatonin only when all other options have been attempted, under the guidance of a sleep specialist, pediatrician, psychiatrist, or dietitian. Melatonin is more regularly used with children who have developmental issues, as opposed to typical children. In that regard, the former kiddo’s tend to have more problems producing optimal levels of melatonin on their own.

Other options?

I’ve written in earlier posts about any number of strategies to help induce sleep in children, and naturally raise melatonin levels. These include lots of activity during the day; ample exposure to natural sunlight, turning-down the lights, noise, and stimuli as the evening approaches and throughout the night; turning-off the computer and TV two hours before bedtime, no light in the bedroom (I know, some kids rely on a nightlight, but there is an alternative – see below), and a consistent bedtime routine.

One more thing: Blue-Blocking Glasses and Bulbs

There is increasing evidence regarding the benefits of Blue-Blocking Glasses to improve sleep. These glasses block blue rays, which apparently helps to increase melatonin levels (blue rays inhibit production of melatonin). They are worn two hours before bedtime. There is also some evidence suggesting that blocking blue-rays also helps with ADHD, avoiding post-partum depression, and seasonal affective disorder. An alternative to the glasses is night-lights and bulbs that have a coating that block blue light. Oh, by the way, in terms of the glasses or bulbs improving ADHD symptoms, it has been found that improving the sleep-wake cycle benefits attention to task and impulse control, which sort of makes sense.

Okay, hope this helps; pleasant dreams. I’d love to hear your feedback regarding sleep issues and what has helped: jcarosso@cpcwecare.com

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