Melatonin safety refers to ensuring that the hormone melatonin is produced in the body at the required amount. Melatonin plays a very unique role: it regulates our sleep patterns. It is partly responsible for programming us to be awake when the sun is up and asleep when the sun goes down. It is only produced at night or in the dark and leads directly to better sleep. This is especially helpful for children who spend most of their time in the sun and have difficulty getting to sleep at night.
There are many positive effects of melatonin production in the body. Apart from aiding in sleep, it helps build the immune system, countering infections and inflammation, and more importantly, it suppresses skin damage that occurs due to exposure to Ultraviolet rays of the sun. This is where sun safety comes in.
With summers getting hotter and longer, kids are prone to get less time in the dark, which is when their natural UV protection, melatonin is produced. Melatonin safety means that children are provided with measures that will keep them protected from sunburns and the threat of skin cancer. Since exposure to both natural and artificial light can quickly reduce the amount of melatonin, parents are well-advised to consider their child's sun exposure during the day and any sleep disturbances or issues at night.
Parents and caregivers can take some steps to ensure that their children receive their natural supply of melatonin rather than making use of supplements. The availability of melatonin supplements in the United States is wide-spread and is not currently regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. Conversely, other countries globally such as the United Kingdom do not allow the sale of melatonin over the counter. There have been some studies examining the melatonin safety for children with promising results; however, we caution you to discuss any use of supplements with your health care provider as some special populations such as children have not been considered widely in the research.
Remember that not all sunshine is bad. There are benefits of staying in the sunshine, especially to receive vitamin D, which is essential in a child's growth. This means that proper melatonin safety will allow your child to benefit from the "good rays" with a lesser threat to their skins' health.
Sunscreen complements melatonin. There is still need to use sun block or sun screen on your child's body to help the melatonin function better. This would create a double layer of summer sun safety protection for your child. Use sunscreen generously and apply it on all exposed areas of the child's body, including the scalp.
Limit the time that your child spends in the sun. Alternate the time that the child spends indoors and outdoors to allow adequate time for sleeping at night. Too much exposure to the sun creates an imbalance in the child's body that results in less chance for melatonin to be manufactured. Also, remember that the sun shines for much longer in some seasons of the year, so tailor outside to your child's needs and pay particular attention to sun safety for babies as our littlest ones may already be working hard at staying on a sleep-wake schedule!
Make sure they sleep in complete darkness. Lack of light, of any kind, is ideal for melatonin production. You can use darkening blinds in the kid's rooms so that even when the sun comes up, their bodies will still produce enough melatonin to keep them going throughout the day. You will of course have to convince them that the bogeyman does not exist and that there are no monsters under the bed waiting to swallow them.
Build a regular, consistent bedtime routine. Keeping bedtime preparation and time predictable will help your kids to sleep much better. Their bodies will become programmed to sleeping time and provide regular melatonin production. It will take discipline and firmness on the part of the parent to keep the little ones away from the television late at night because a child's safety in the sun is the adults responsibility.
Always use child safety sun wear. Hats, sunglasses, and densely woven materials actually help melatonin to work better in the body, because these clothes and accessories keep harmful UV rays from directly affecting the skin, while at the same time, the melatonin safety is at work in the children's skin as well.
These tips demonstrate that sun safety for kids requires that you as a parent or caregiver understand how the body functions so that you can optimize your child's safety in the sun.
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