To aid their children’s sleep, parents have administered melatonin, Benadryl, herbal sleep aids, as well as non-prescription and prescription sleep medications.

Summary: A recent survey by Sleep Doctor, involving 1,201 parents, reveals that 79% have administered substances like melatonin and Benadryl to help their children sleep, with Millennial and Gen Z parents more likely to do so than older generations. The report also highlights non-medication strategies such as bedtime routines, consistent schedules, and limiting screen time. The survey underscores the widespread use of sleep aids and the importance of understanding the risks and benefits of these practices.

Key Takeaways: 

  • 79% of parents reported using substances like melatonin and Benadryl to help their children sleep.
  • Millennial and Gen Z parents are more likely to administer sleep aids to their children compared to older generations.
  • Common methods to aid children’s sleep without medication include establishing bedtime routines, consistent schedules, and limiting screen time.

Sleep Doctor, an online source for sleep health, improvement, and education, has published a recent survey report investigating the frequency of parents administering substances, such as melatonin and Benadryl, to help their children sleep. 

The report also shares insight into other strategies parents employ to help their kids sleep that do not require medications. The survey garnered responses from 1,201 parents.    

79% of Parents Have Administered Substances

According to the survey, 79% of parents have administered substances to their children for the primary purpose of aiding sleep. Among this group, Millennial and Gen Z parents were more likely to say they have given their children sleep aids than older generations. Similarly, men were more likely than women to administer such substances.

Additionally, survey findings reveal that the majority of parents admit to administering melatonin to aid their children’s sleep. Although melatonin was the most frequently used substance, parents also reported using Benadryl, herbal sleep aids, non-prescription sleep aids, and prescription sleep medications. Additionally, less commonly used substances include CBD, THC, and alcohol.

Melatonin has been researched extensively for use in neurodiverse children, those with circadian rhythm disorders, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and jet lag. However, how parents and caregivers are administering unregulated and unprescribed medications to induce sleep in situations including bedtime resistance is not only not indicated but not recommended by the medical community,” says Nilong Vyas, MD, a pediatrician, public health specialist, and board-certified sleep expert, in a release.

Parents have also utilized various strategies to help their children sleep without resorting to substances. The most common strategies include establishing a bedtime routine, implementing a consistent sleeping schedule, and limiting screen time before bed. Other strategies involve promoting a healthy diet, engaging in stress-reducing activities, incorporating exercise, investing in a new mattress, and seeking guidance from a sleep therapist.

The survey was conducted via SurveyMonkey in April 2024, with a total of 1,201 parents surveyed.

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