Rise in melatonin use

The Guardian have released a new article about melatonin prescriptions for children. Read an excerpt below.

Tens of thousands of children and young people are being given the hormone melatonin to help them sleep, prompting concern that the medicine is being handed out too readily with little evidence of its long-term effectiveness or safety.

Melatonin, which is produced naturally by the body in dark environments to help sleep preparations, has been authorised for use by people aged over 55. It has been hailed as a less addictive alternative to insomnia drug treatments.

Experts have expressed concern that the hormone may be being overprescribed by paediatricians due to the fact that there are few alternatives to support children with insomnia and other problems.

“These figures show we need more services for children who have sleep problems,” said Mandy Gurney, a health visitor and founder of the Millpond Sleep Clinic. “You can get very good results just looking down the behavioural and sleep hygiene line … The question is: do they need melatonin? But that piece of research has not been done.”

Dr Michael Farquhar, a consultant in sleep medicine at the Evelina children’s hospital, part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust, was more cautious, describing the prescription of melatonin as “not a good or bad thing”.

He said: “It can be right for the right child in the right context … I would expect to see increase in use but whether it is a valid increase in prescription is hard to say. We would need to know the reason it is being prescribed and whether there was a benefit in its use … A much bigger piece of work is needed to find that out.”

Farquhar said he was concerned that some people saw melatonin as a quick fix. “Behaviour interventions are more likely to be effective in the long-term and a better paediatric principle,” he said.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) says melatonin appears relatively safe in the short and medium term (up to 18 months). However beyond this the picture is unclear.

“What is important about the data is that it suggests a great need for sleep services within children’s health services. It is not enough to only have a bit of advice and if that doesn’t work then offer melatonin,” he said.

The figures are published as experts warn that young people’s lack of sleep is a hidden health crisis. Last month, the Guardian revealed that thousands of children and teenagers faced a mounting sleeplessness crisis, after the number of admissions to hospital of young people with sleep disorders rose sharply in six years.

You can read the full article here or find out more about behaviour based sleep tips on our sleep tips page.

Sheep Dreams Campaign

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The Children’s Sleep Charity are pleased to have secured an exciting partnership with the well-loved Aardman character ‘Shaun the Sheep’. Vicki Dawson, CEO and Founder says, “We are delighted to have Shaun on board supporting our campaign.  Sheep Dreams is a new concept and style guide for Shaun, created by Aardman, building on the natural association between Sheep and Sleep to create a wonderfully cosy and tactile world.   The income stream that this will generate will help us to support more families who are in desperate need of our help”.

The public launch will be later this month at the UK’s first ever Sleep Show in London, from 12th-14th October 2018. Vicki has been advising the organisers and is speaking each day as part of the seminar programme. The charity will have a stand where it will showcase the Sheep Dreams partnership. 

Children's lack of sleep is 'hidden health crisis', experts say

NHS Digital have released new information about children and teenagers who are admitted to hospital with sleep problems.

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The Guardian analysed data from NHS Digital, the national information and technology partner to the health and social care system in England, revealing that admissions with a primary diagnosis of sleep disorder among those aged 16 and under has risen from 6,520 in 2012-13 to 9,429 last year.

It comes despite the fact that admissions for all ages for sleep disorders has fallen slightly since 2012-13, moving from 29,511 to 29,184 in 2017-18.

“Sleep issues are a huge problem … it’s a hidden public health crisis,” said Rachael Taylor, a child sleep consultant at The Sleep Sanctuary. “There is a lot of sleep anxiety being diagnosed at the moment; it’s a new area that we are looking at, dealing with more children who have anxiety and it is coming out in sleep issues.”

One mother, Susan, 49, from south-east London, whose 14-year-old son experiences trouble sleeping, said she wished there was more support from the NHS. “GPs don’t always understand about sleeplessness unless you get lucky.” Susan’s son is autistic and she said it was common for children with the condition to have sleep difficulties.

Vicki Dawson at the Children’s Sleep Charity said that at the moment sleep support for parents and young people was “a postcode lottery”. She noted that in Doncaster the Clinical Commissioning Group commissioned a full sleep service from the charity and recently nearby Bassetlaw duplicated the service after seeing the huge impact it has had in the area.

“In other areas families are left in crisis unable to access support; we have medical practitioners signposting families to the charity and simply cannot meet demand as we receive no funding,” she said.

You can read the full article on The Guardian website.

Find out more about Teen Sleep and ideas to help your Teen sleep better on our Teen Sleep page



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