Increase in the use of sleep drugs for children

Pills Sleep Drugs ChildrenPills. Photo:

Marked increase in the use of sleep drugs for children

In one year, the use of sleep drugs among children aged 5 to 9 years has increased by 20 per cent, shows figures NRK has obtained from the Prescription Register.


– You should not have to use sleep drugs when you are that young. The only exception is when the child suffers from specific neurological conditions, but this is very rare, says senior researcher and sleep expert in the public health department, Børge Sivertsen, to the Public Broadcaster.

Figures from the register show that in 2016, 2,999 children had a prescription for sleep drugs, while last year there were 3,642 children who took pills in order to sleep.

– Healthy children who sleep poorly should not receive sleeping pills. This is not an age group to administer excessive drugs to, says Sivertsen.

He believes that the increase is primarily due to changing attitudes towards sleep medication.

– We see a certain increase in the incidence of sleep disorders, we sleep less well than we did earlier. But for the youngest, it’s the parents who administer the sleep drugs. There is probably a more positive attitude towards the use of some sleep drugs in the population, especially when it comes to the sleep hormone melatonin, says the researcher.

He is supported in his view by Professor Steinar Madsen in the Norwegian Medicine Agency.

– The increase is largely associated with increasing use of melatonin for children who receive ADHD medicines. Sleep disorders are a common side effect of central neurological stimulants. Melatonin is a better alternative.


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