Sedating over the counter

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Never give your child more than the recommended dose of any medication.

Herbal or ‘natural’ sleep remedies – like chamomile, hops, passion flower and St John’s wort – are available in many health food shops, but there isn’t much evidence to show that they help.

If your child is taking melatonin, he needs to be settled and ready for bed before having his nightly dose.

This is because melatonin usually works within 30-60 minutes.

Herbal sleep remedies don’t go through the same testing as medicines prescribed by your doctor or bought over the counter at your pharmacy.

Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally by your brain when it gets dark at night. It also helps maintain your body clock from day to day.

Also seek help if sleep problems are making your child anxious, or if they go on for more than 2-4 weeks.

They can cause side effects like crankiness, hyperactivity, challenging behaviour and daytime drowsiness in some children.

Use of a sedative medication by itself is very unlikely to help your child’s sleep problem without behaviour strategies to improve your child’s bedtime routine.

If your child has ADHD, ASD, behaviour problems, developmental delay or a medical condition – for example, cerebral palsy – and is also sleeping poorly, discuss this with your doctor.

Your child’s paediatrician might be able to prescribe additional medications for your child’s sleep problems.

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