Turning to medicines or technology to help your child get to sleep may be some parents’ first impulse, but there are often safer ways to solve the problem, reports Lancaster Online.

Sleep problems in the pediatric population are very common. It is important to take the issue seriously because sleep affects mental health, academic performance, peer and parent relations, immune system function and overall health.

Parents frequently ask me if it’s OK to use a medication such as melatonin or Benadryl to help their child sleep. Sleep medications, even over-the-counter ones, are not without side effects, and sometimes can have the opposite result in children, disrupting sleep.

Most sleep problems in children and teens can be solved with behavioral interventions, so it is important to take steps to improve “sleep hygiene” before trying a medication.