Melatonin and root causes of poor sleep

We were shocked by the revelation that over 117,000 people under 18 were given “off label” melatonin prescriptions in 2017-18 (Fears over rise in use of melatonin to aid sleep, 3 November). Surprisingly, sales of melatonin are not regulated and it is widely available as an over-the-counter medication and from online retailers. This means the real number of children taking melatonin may well be higher than quoted in your report.

The rise in melatonin prescriptions coincides with the increased use of blue-rich LED lighting in our indoor and outdoor spaces and the increased use of LED screens. In a previous article, the Guardian reported that the rise in children’s sleeplessness was partly down to technology and the fact that the blue light from LED screens suppresses the production of the sleep hormone, making it harder to fall asleep. In the opinion of LightAware, sleeplessness will continue to be a huge problem in children until we reduce the excessive amount of blue light in our environment. It is surely better to tackle the causes of the problem than expose children to untested medication.

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