An increasing number of parents looking for a quiet stress-free evening are turning to gummy bears laced with melatonin, a phenomenon trending on social media, reported SRF.
Melatonin is a sleep hormone. It is triggered by darkness. But taking it at the wrong time can alter a person’s internal clock. Unlike sleeping pills, melatonin does not cause people to fall asleep more quickly. Instead it stabilises existing sleep patterns. According to a doctor interviewed by SRF, healthy children do not have a melatonin deficiency. Some older people do however.
Under medical supervision melatonin can be helpful. But taking it without guidance can backfire. High doses can lead to melatonin hangovers.
According to Swissmedic, Switzerland’s drug approval authority, only three melatonin preparations are approved in Switzerland, all of which require a prescription. Marketing melatonin as a dietary supplement or food is prohibited in Switzerland. At the end of November, Swissmedic also explicitly warned against the import of melatonin.
Another problem is not knowing exactly what is in any product bought online or the dosage it contains.
Rather than medicating children with melatonin, it is better to find out what is causing sleep problems. Stress, screen time, nightmares and sleep apnea are worth investigating.
SRF article (in German)