Using Sleeping Aid Medications for Children

Question

Is it okay to give sleeping medications to young children if they can’t fall asleep?

Dr. Greene's Answer

Most children go through one or more periods when they have a great deal of difficulty sleeping.

Often the sleeplessness is linked to sickness or rapid growth, either physical or emotional.

During these times drugs can be used to help children fall asleep or sleep longer, but drugs do not help children deal with the underlying reason for the difficulties sleeping.

In my opinion, it is usually best to try to determine the reason for the sleeping problems and work with the child to improve his or her sleep in natural ways. This may not always be practical and can be especially difficult for families with two working parents.

If a child is being kept up by an illness, and that illness is being treated, medications to promote sleep are quite appropriate and may even speed healing.

Last medical review on: June 18, 2008
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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