Saturday, July 03, 2010

The inside dope on melatonin

You may know that Bud has been taking melatonin for years to help him sleep through the night. As he's grown, we've had to increase the dose to maintain its effectiveness, and for the past year or so he's been taking 9 mg a night - a dose that would leave most adults groggy for days, but which has been just enough to help Bud get a solid night's sleep.

This spring, however, with the anxiety of the end of school, the unknowns of summer, and a new school year looming large on his horizon, Bud started to have trouble sleeping again, and his 9 mg dose was rendered ineffective. The doctor he sees for medication management authorized us to go up to 12 mg a night, but before we got started with that, Bud had an appointment with his pediatrician, who asked me about the melatonin I was giving Bud and, specifically, about where I'd been buying it. I told her I usually picked it up at Target or the local pharmacy, and she gave me a valuable tip.

She said that melatonin, like most natural supplements, is not regulated, so a 3 mg tablet may not actually contain 3 mg of pure melatonin. She suggested that I go online and order "pharmaceutical grade melatonin" and try that before I increased Bud's dose. It worked beautifully. Bud's holding steady at 9 mg a night and has been sleeping soundly - even during the past week, when we were away from home on vacation.

I wish I'd known about this years ago, so I'm passing it along, in case any of you are having hit-or-miss experience with over-the-counter melatonin.

Sleep well, my friends.

29 comments:

Alysia said...

very interesting! can you tell us where you get it from? we get ours from Kirkman directly (corn-free, dairy-free, etc) and our 4 yr old has held steady at 2 mg for 3 months now, but I find as I get closer to the end of the bottle it's less effective (is that possible??) Would love to know where you get yours from. Thanks!
alysia
http://www.trydefyinggravity.wordpress.com

kristi said...

We had TC on melatonin for awhile but now he gets sleepy and stays asleep, it is as if the melatonin kick started something in his brain. We use it occasionally if he is extremely out of sorts but not very often.

Dani G said...

So interesting. Just in the last few weeks (since school's been out), my bird's been having a hard time getting to sleep at night. I've been thinking melatonin, but haven't made a move yet. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!!

Ashlee @ I'm Topsy Turvy said...

Melatonin has changed our night time routine and lives (4 children with Aspergers)!! Thanks for this advice!

Missy said...

I did not know this about melatonin. It is definitely something I am going to have to look into.

Stephanie said...

So how do you get started with a melatonin treatment? I've asked some of our doctors, but I've gotten very vague responses--they won't write a script for it, but many think it's a good idea.

Would you be willing to write (or point me to a post that you've already written) to help me (and possibly others) get started?

graceunderautism said...

I had been told about it not always being pure, but didn't know about ordering the pharmaceutical kind. I have noticed that certain brands do not work as well as others. Also, the time release does not work well for my Js because they will wake up between the gap in the 2 layers.

Moggymom said...

good to know! I recently read a study that supported a much smaller (0.3mg) dose as more effective than larger doses and tried it with my 6mg/night kiddo and it actually worked! It isn't as easy to find though, I think the brand we bought was Sundown from Kroger.

Apples and Autobots said...

I have two little Aspies, and I've been considering melatonin. My 8 yr. old son was on a prescription medication for sleep, but we took him off of it because it wasn't very effective. Our 3 yr. old is keeping us up into the wee hours. So, I think I might try it.

Accidental Expert said...

Thanks for this. We use melatonin too, sometimes with less than stellar results. I'll have to look into this.

pickledfairy said...

Thank-you so much for this "tip"! I took take melatonin to help with my wonky sleep patterns due to the pain and over active autonomic nervous system that comes with mitochondrial disease. I have been buying mine at my local grocery store, but after reading this I am going to be ordering it from the compounding pharmacy that fills my other mito cocktail meds.
Sheridan

Pam said...

Good info. We've been using melatonin for a few years iwth our Aspie (9 yr old) and it has made such a difference. We use a liquid and find that older bottles that have been open for a while tend to lose effectiveness. I'll check the purity of the brand more carefully. Thanks!

Bannie said...

Boo has gone up to 6 mg...and we buy it at Walgreens or whoever has it b1g1F...I'm going to look online and get the "good stuff". Boo can't sleep without it....That worries me.

Have you tried or used Inositol? It is very effective for Boo's anxiety.
I call it vitamin Valium...
(I would love to use it more often but coffee renders it ineffective...and coffee is a must have!)
but if I wake up during the night and ruminate and it seems like my night is over I pop one...(650 mg) and can get back to sleep.

Daisy said...

Fascinating! Thanks for the advice. My daughter and my husband occasionally take melatonin. My daughter complains that she has to continually increase her dosage; this may be why. Thanks for sharing!

Maddy said...

Lummy! Now that's worth the ticket - we're all over the place here after the time zone change from England / transatlantic / international visit.

Glad to hear that things are settling down your end.

Life With PDD-NOS said...

What a fantastic tip!

We aren't taking melatonin, anymore, because my son sleeps unaided at night these days. But, this is awesome to know if we were ever to need it again.

Thanks! Keep on with the great blogging.

j* said...

Thank you, I will pass this on to my melatonin-needing-friends.

Different, Not Diseased said...

I am interested in where you get the "pharmaceutical grade" melatonin, too. My daughter (8 yo - anxiety) takes Natrol Timed-Release 5 mg. My son (10 yo, bipolar) takes 3 mg Natrol - non time release. My husband, (depression & ADHD) takes melatonin, which doesn't give him a good night's sleep, or trazodone, which leaves him feeling awfully groggy, even after 10 hrs of sleep, so we're looking for something different for him. I'm so glad to have found your blog. ~ Mommiest Girl

Anonymous said...

wow! just heard about you from Wrong Planet, and I am honored to read you.
Thanks so much for being who you are and telling the world. We need more like you and Bud.

AmyLK said...

That's a wonderful tip! Thanks for sharing and that's a great Dr you have there!

MOM-NOS said...

Oh, goodness. My apologies for not replying sooner to your questions. Sometimes I reply in my head and forget that I haven't actually put the replies in writing.

Alysia, I just did a Google search and came up with this. I'm sure there are other brands out there and I think there are places where it's not as expensive. Also, these capsules are large, so if your child has trouble taking pills, they might not be right for you. That being said, I used to crush Bud's melatonin and mix it with applesauce, so I think you could just open the capsules and do the same.

Stephanie, Bud has never had a prescription with melatonin, but his doctors have been good about helping me determine how much is appropriate to give him. Here's what I know: Bud processes melatonin REALLY differently than other people. Some adults use 250 mcg to sleep. Bud's current dose is 9 mg - which is 9,000 mcg. He is not groggy in the morning. In fact, sometimes he still doesn't sleep all the way through till morning. He started using melatonin when he was 5, and he started on 1 mg, which worked beautifully. By the time he was 7, melatonin alone wasn't enough and he needed another medication to treat additional issues, which had the added benefit of making him sleepy - but his melatonin has still increased as he's grown. We have the go-ahead from his doctor to go as high as 12 mg, but since we switched to the pharmaceutical grade, we're holding steady at 9.

Sheridan, so nice to see you here! :)

Bannie, I haven't tried Inositol, though I think you've mentioned it to me in the past as well. So far, melatonin is doing the trick (knock on wood...)

Rachael E. Wurtman J.D., M.S. said...

The correct dose is 0.3 mg (or ml). You can get this dose by buying melatonin in liquid form and using a very small syringe (without the needle).
Rachael Wurtman J.D., M.S.

Alysia said...

wow - thank you for the info and the google search! You don't even know me and you took the time to do that! I must say, this is what I love about this online community of like-minded parents going through the same things - helping each other as we going on this journey with our kids. Thank you.
I hope you don't mind if I add you to my list of important blogs on my site.
Alysia
http://trydefyinggravity.wordpress.com

David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. said...

My daughter's mum and I gave the wee one melatonin as a small child, but we never had to go online to buy it or get a syringe to administer it: it was already in the milk we got for her, which was pulled late in the evening and contained enough melatonin to help her get sleepy.

Em said...

MOM-NOS: I just started reading your blog. Its great! I work for the Autism Society of NC and felt I had to make a plug about addressing death:

Catherine Faherty for the Asheville TEACCH Center wrote "Understanding Death and Illness and What They Teach About Life"

The wonderful part about this book is that it is interactive, something you use WITH your son. You can tailor the worksheets to his specific needs. Catherine is amazing. Her ways of explaining death and emotions such as grief are sublime and beautiful, something I think us "neuro-typicals" need a dose of at times.

Anyway, I would recommend her other books as well!

thanks!
Emily

Em said...

oops, totaly meant to post my above comment on the more recent post about death

Patrick said...

Wow!! Thanks for that tidbit of highly useful information! We've been considering giving our 5 year old a miniscule amount of melatonin to help her sleep through the night. If we do decide to do it, we'll definitely look into getting the pharmaceutical grade melatonin from a reliable source!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Jessica LeClair said...

Hello my son is ad-hd and we where using the pills and crushing them and putting it in apple sauce, yogurt, pudding well everything and went back to a few idea's but he just wouldn't take it anymore so we got it in liquid and it tastes nasty and wont take it what can I mix it with so he doesn't taste it?

MOM-NOS said...

Hi, Jessica. Bud takes a number of medications, so it was worth it to me take the time to help him learn to swallow a pill. I started with mini m&ms in a spoonful of jello, then worked up to full-size m&ms, then two m&ms at a time, etc. He took his pills in jello for years, but now he just takes them with water with no problem at all.

I'm not sure how many other people will see your comment, because this is an old post. If it would be helpful, I'd be happy to post your question on the mom-nos Facebook page to see what others have to offer. Just let me know.