Increased use of sleep aids for children

Sleeping in bedSleeping in bed.Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

This past year, the use of sleeping medicine among children aged 5 to 9 years has increased by 20 percent, shows figures NRK has obtained from the Prescription Register.


– “You should not be taking sleep medication when you are so young. The only exception is when the child has specific neurological conditions, but these are rare,” says senior researcher and sleep expert of the National Institute of Public Health, Børge Sivertsen, for the national rival.

Figures from the register show that in 2016, 2,999 children received prescriptions for sleep medications, while last year there were 3,642 children who took pills to sleep.

– “Active and healthy children who sleep poorly should not be taking sleeping pills. This is not an age group to be giving such drugs,” says Sivertsen.

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

“We see a certain increase in the incidence of sleep difficulties, we are sleeping worse than before. But for the youngest, it’s the parents who give them sleeping medication. There is probably a more positive attitude towards the use of some sleeping medications in the population, especially when it comes to the sleep hormone melatonin,” says the researcher.

He is supported by Professor Steinar Madsen of the Danish Medicines Agency.

– “The increase is largely associated with increasing use of melatonin in children receiving ADHD medications. Sleep disorders are a common side effect of stimulants. Melatonin is a better option than other sleep medications,” says Madsen.


© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today