Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

Melatonin Supplements

If your child has insomnia (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep), you might wonder if melatonin supplements can help. Always talk to the doctor before giving your child any new supplement or medicine. Here’s what to know in the meantime.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin (mel-eh-TOE-nen) is a hormone that the brain releases when it gets dark. It tells the body that it’s time to get ready for sleep. When the sun comes up and it gets light outside, the brain slows its melatonin production, which helps the body wake up. (Other lights — especially blue light from electronic devices — also stop melatonin from being released.)

What Are Melatonin Supplements?

Melatonin also can be made in a lab. It’s sold in stores as a dietary supplement that people can buy without a prescription to help them sleep. Dietary supplements (pills or other products taken by mouth to support the diet) don’t need U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval before they can be sold. So, some melatonin supplements may contain ingredients that aren't listed on the label or the amount of melatonin in them might differ from what’s listed.

There are many different forms of melatonin supplements, including pills, gummies, and liquids. Some companies now make melatonin in forms that can be inhaled (breathed in), sprayed into the mouth, or sprayed around the bed or bedroom. These newer forms aren’t recommended for children as they haven't been studied yet.

Are Melatonin Supplements Safe?

Experts are still studying whether melatonin supplements are safe and effective for kids. Some studies have shown that using melatonin for a short time at low doses is likely safe, but it can sometimes cause side effects in kids and teens, such as:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • anxiety
  • morning sleepiness

Melatonin also can interact with other medicines or supplements, making them not work as well as they should. There have also been a few reports of melatonin poisoning in which a child or teen needed care in the hospital.

Because a melatonin supplement might have a much higher dose than what’s on the label or could have unlisted ingredients, ask your doctor which brands are most reliable if they recommend it for your child. Be sure to store melatonin with other medicines and supplements, out of reach of your children.

Is It OK for Kids and Teens to Take Melatonin Supplements?

Doctors usually don’t recommend melatonin for kids and teens. If your child has trouble sleeping, improving sleep hygiene and creating new habits may be all that’s needed.

Encourage your kids to:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Avoid bright lights and electronic devices at night.

These habits can help the body make more melatonin on its own, without needing a supplement.

If your child or teen has good sleep hygiene but still feels sleepy during the day or struggles to fall asleep at night, talk to the doctor. Your child might have a sleep condition (or another health condition) that can be treated.

What Else Should I Know?

Talk to the doctor before giving your child melatonin. They might recommend a trial of melatonin for a short while for a teen who needs to reset their sleep schedule, or for kids with certain conditions that affect sleep. The doctor can help you figure out the best melatonin form and dosage for your child.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date Reviewed: May 1, 2024

What next?

By using this site, you consent to our use of cookies. To learn more, read our privacy policy.