This leaflet is about the use of melatonin for particular sleep problems in childhood. It is used to help children who have problems getting to sleep at the start of the night.
This leaflet has been written specifically for parents and carers about the use of this medicine in children. The information may differ from that provided by the manufacturer.Please read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.
Common brand: Circadin®
Melatonin is available in a range of branded products.
Melatonin is mostly used for children with partial or complete blindness, cerebral palsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism or learning disabilities. It is unlikely to be used for an otherwise healthy child who has sleep problems.
Poor sleep can affect your child’s physical health, mood, behaviour and development. Melatonin may help your child to get into a regular sleep pattern.
Melatonin is best given between half an hour and an hour before your child’s agreed bedtime.
Give the medicine at about the same time each day so that this becomes part of your child’s daily routine, which will help you to remember.
Your doctor will work out the amount of melatonin (the dose) that is right for your child. The dose will be shown on the medicine label.
You will probably start with a low dose and the dose will be increased a little each week until the sleep problems have been improved, or up to an agreed maximum. It is important that your child has the minimum they need to help them get to sleep.
It is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions about how much to give.
Tablets should be swallowed with a glass of water, milk or juice. Your child should not chew the tablets.
Capsules should be swallowed with a glass of water, milk or juice. Your child should not chew the capsules.
You can open the capsules and mix the contents with a small amount of soft food such as yogurt, honey or jam. Your child should swallow it all straight away, without chewing.
Liquid medicine: Measure out the right amount using an oral syringe or medicine spoon. You can get these from your pharmacist. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give the right amount.
If the medicine is helpful, your child should start to feel sleepy about half an hour after taking a dose.
If you miss a dose, wait until the next normal dose. Do not give the missed dose.
If you think you may have given your child too much melatonin, contact your doctor or NHS Direct (0845 4647 in England and Wales; 08454 24 24 24 in Scotland). Have the medicine packet with you if you telephone for advice.
We use medicines to make our children better, but sometimes they have other effects that we don’t want (side-effects).
If your child gets a fast heart rate (they may have a fluttering feeling in the chest or feel the heart beating fast), contact your doctor before giving the next evening’s dose.
If they seem unwell, take them to hospital.
Your child’s doctor, pharmacist or nurse will be able to give you more information about melatonin and about other medicines used to treat sleep disorders.
Version 1.3, June 2010 (November 2011). © NPPG, RCPCH and WellChild 2011, all rights reserved. Reviewed by: June 2012
The primary source for the information in this leaflet is the British National Formulary for Children. For details on any other sources used for this leaflet, please contact us through our website, www.medicinesforchildren.org.uk
We take great care to make sure that the information in this leaflet is correct and up-to-date. However, medicines can be used in different ways for different patients. It is important that you ask the advice of your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure about something. This leaflet is about the use of these medicines in the UK, and may not apply to other countries. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group (NPPG), WellChild and the contributors and editors cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of information, omissions of information, or any actions that may be taken as a consequence of reading this leaflet.