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Melatonin Can Fix ADHD Sleep Problems

Children and adults with ADHD often have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.  Sometimes this is due to the stimulant medications they take, but sleep problems are one of the more overlooked components in the ADHD spectrum of symptoms.  Some experts believe that insomnia is a form of hyperactivity and inattention, especially if the mind jumps from one thought to another despite a dark, quiet environment.   There are many ways to overcome insomnia and get a good night's sleep, but if all else fails, it is possible to use melatonin supplements to reduce ADHD-related sleep problems in children and adults.

Melatonin is a hormone naturally made and secreted by the body's pineal gland.  Aside from regulating the functions of other hormones, melatonin's key role is to maintain the circadian rhythm – the body's internal clock that tells us when to fall asleep and when to wake up.  Normally, light suppresses melatonin production whereas darkness stimulates its secretion, but this is not the case among individuals with ADHD.  It's common for a person with ADHD to have disrupted melatonin cycles, as shown by their staying wide awake at night and feeling sleepy during the day. It's important for kids with ADHD to get at least eight hours of sleep every night; otherwise, their irritability, inattention, and mood becomes aggravated the next day.

Melatonin supplements are available in most health food stores in small doses of 3mg – 5mg.  If taken appropriately, melatonin can induce sleepiness and restore the circadian rhythms of someone with ADHD.  A study by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recently ran a trial on melatonin supplementation and sleep problems among children with ADHD.  After nine child participants received 6mg of melatonin supplements, researchers observed that they were able to fall asleep after 51 minutes, as opposed to 99 minutes without melatonin.  The study found no adverse reactions to melatonin supplementation.

There are no guidelines on melatonin supplementation for children, but it might be best to start with the lowest dose possible.   Adults can start with a 3mg dose and increase or decrease as recommended by their doctors.  Melatonin might interact with antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and stimulant medications, so consult your physician before taking melatonin to help you sleep.