A good night’s sleep is hard to come by in my house. My kids didn’t reliably sleep through the night until about a year ago…and it’s still about a 50-75% hit rate. (We’re talking almost 9 years of crappy sleep. Yeah, really.) Once they finally slept through more than a couple nights, the full extent of my own raging insomnia was revealed. Not pretty.
You know what you need to conk out in a timely manner? Melatonin. God bless melatonin. But you need to have serotonin to make melatonin. You need to have a healthy gut to make adequate serotonin. And here’s where we have a problem. Despite my best efforts, we don’t have great guts. One of my kids had his serotonin measured…he had a 12 and the bottom of the reference range is 50. Erm…that explains a lot.
Melatonin is also a lovely antioxidant, and, rumor has it, protects the brain and the immune system. It’s sensitive to light and your body produces it best in total darkness. So the little nightlight that reduces the boys’ anxiety and lights my way as I stumble across the hallway at 2 a.m. is counter productive. If there was some way to put it on a predictive motion detector… Late night screen time will also kill it–iPhone, laptop, TV, etc. I’ve read about using amber sunglasses to cut the blue light. Do yourself and your kids a favor and leave a little time gap between screen time and bedtime. (I cop to being a terrible phone checker until the very last minute, but I don’t get on the computer very often after 8 p.m. and our TV is usually off at 9:15 p.m. The little guys don’t get iPhone or iPad time after 6 p.m.)
So we supplement as directed by our pediatrician. All of my kids’ doctors know what we use, how often, and how much. We’ve depended on a chewable melatonin 1 mg from either Kirkman Labs or Source Naturals for the kids. Some of the other tools in my sleep toolkit include a lovely herb blend called Valerian Super Calm, Epsom salt baths, and Natural Calm. We also make a point to get the boys out and moving as much as possible. Their little engines burn hotter than average and they do best with lots of activity and lots of recovery (sleep). They are asleep by 7:30 or 8 most nights, rarely later. During the day we make sure they are physically engaged, and if possible, exhausted. A typical weekend could be a 3 hour outing to a park, basketball or skateboarding followed by 2-3 hours of killer dodgeball at the trampoline center. On Monday they did 2 back-to-back Zumba classes for kids, at least 30 minutes of basketball, then swim lessons and 30 minutes of free swim. They slept 12 solid hours!
For my own insomnia, I take 3 mg melatonin from Source Naturals and 500 mg valerian in capsule form. It can give intense dreams, but it’s the combo that reliably gets me to sleep in a reasonable amount of time. This combo works better than any prescription sleep aid I’ve tried.
Say goodnight, Gracie!