Was The Sandman Hiding In A Bottle Of Melatonin?

27 Feb

Taking ‘naps’ sounds so childish…I prefer to call them ‘horizontal life pauses.’- Unknown quotes

When Oli was 18 months old I crumbled under her terrorist acts of sleep deprivation and gave her a magical pill called melatonin. I had been hearing about this over-the-counter medication for months, but had been previously reluctant to try it. The only medicine I had given her before was Tylenol, Prevacid for her reflux and a low dose antibiotic to prevent kidney infections caused by her kidney reflux. I was scared to give my baby anything not approved by the FDA. Which like most supplements, it isn’t.

I was also apprehensive because I had read and heard mixed opinions about the use of it in children. Although no one came right out and said “If you give your child this medicine it will harm her.” I had read that its use was too new for studies on its possible long term implications to be available. So essentially I heard “If you give your child this it may harm her.” That was an enormous and terrifying maybe.

That was why it took me an entire year before agreeing to try it.

Eventually I came across articles like this:

“Studies of melatonin use in children have shown it could reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and increase the duration of sleep in children with mental retardation, autism, psychiatric disorders, visual impairment, or epilepsy.”—-from cbsnews.com

At this point I didn’t know that she was autistic. She was too young for psychiatric disorders and did not have epilepsy yet. She was blind and could possibly have MR. That was enough for me to start looking more closely at reasons to try it.

(Did I mention that it had been a whole year since the elusive Sand Man had made regular house calls to Pahrump?)

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And I began to realize the very big importance of a very tiny gland that Oli just happened to be missing.

So I began researching articles like these: taken from Wikipedia

“Circadian rhythm

In humans, melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, a small endocrine gland[26] located in the center of the brain but outside the blood–brain barrier. The melatonin signal forms part of the system that regulates the sleep-wake cycle by chemically causing drowsiness and lowering the body temperature, but it is the central nervous system (specifically the suprachiasmatic nuclei, or SCN)[26] that controls the daily cycle in most components of the paracrine and endocrine systems[27][28] rather than the melatonin signal (as was once postulated).”

That was clincher for me. If she doesn’t have the gland that produces melatonin and she doesn’t have any light perception to help create a sleep-wake-cycle then how in the hell was she ever going to sleep without some kind of help?

Once that realization finally sunk in I jumped into my car and raced my stressed, sleep deprived, pajama clad butt to Walgreens. Like a woman on a mission I shoved aside little old ladies and received snooty stares from well rested patrons. Oblivious to the rest of the customers in the store I made me way to the supplement section and grabbed two bottles. My savior came in a little green bottle with a yellow lid.

I immediately encountered an unforeseen problem. There were two doses available at Walgreens. One that was 3mg and one that was 5mg. How much do you give an 18 month old? I had discussed trying Melatonin with her doctors, but we had never finalized the decision so we never talked about dosage. I took them both to the register feeling severely deflated. I wasn’t going to be able to try it tonight.

I paid for my purchase and climbed reluctantly back into my car.

Another long night was waiting for me…

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4 Responses to “Was The Sandman Hiding In A Bottle Of Melatonin?”

  1. Karen @ Folk Haven February 27, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    We have also discovered the wonders of melatonin in our family. While our situation is by no means as extreme as yours our son is on the mild end of the autism spectrum and has never been much of a sleeper. He would only sleep for 20 minutes at a time for his first 10 months and there after was up at least once every 90 minutes. We couldn’t get him to fall asleep initially for the night until midnight or so no matter when we started or what we tried. Finally when he was about 2 years old a doctor suggested melatonin. We gave it to him and he was asleep 6 minutes later. We have now decreased the dosage but it still takes effect within half an hour or so most nights. I know some people would judge us for using it, but sleep deprivation is no joke at all. I had had to stop driving altogether for months, but when we began to use it I had to drive as we were receiving diagnosis and needed to start taking him to his therapies. I don’t know if it is possible that he doesn’t produce enough of his own melatonin naturally, or if the problem lies elsewhere, but it has really gone a long way in helping us. Once he started sleeping (somewhat) better he finally began making significant strides in speech development, so I know the lack of sleep must have been really affecting his ability to learn as well. He will be turning three this coming week and now only wakes briefly about once a night!

    • mommyhasissues February 27, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      Melatonin was a life saver for us too. I’m glad it’s working for your son! To the person who decided to make and then manufacture synthetic melatonin, I will gladly kiss your feet and scrub your toilets forever!! I finally got a good night’s sleep in 2009!

  2. My Dance in the Rain March 1, 2013 at 3:35 am #

    It’s a huge successor with children and adults with Cri du Chat Syndrome.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Night Was My Enemy | I'm fine, but my Mommy has issues! - March 1, 2013

    […] called Oli’s doctor and told her our decision to try Melatonin. She suggested that we start at 3mg and see if it helps. The first night I gave it to her I was so […]

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