Parents resort to supplements for kids' sleep

NEW YORK, N.Y.; Sept. 5, 2012

Parents know sleep is important to keep children learning. Getting it regularly is a different matter.

Now, some are going to unusual lengths trying to help kids get sleep.

Some are resorting to the supplement melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone - a chemical messenger the body sends to tell us to sleep.

The supplement is a synthetic form of the hormone, and doctors don't really know whether it works, or is safe for kids.

Dr. Judith Owens, a sleep specialist at the Children's National Medical Center, says, "There are essentially no long term studies looking at possible side effects down the road."

Some studies show it may help kids with autism sleep better.

But melatonin users have also reported side effects like headaches and daytime drowsiness.

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