Getting a teenager to go to bed when you want them to isn’t always an easy task. It can be frustrating to try to cope with your teen’s erratic sleep schedule, causing both grumpy parents and teens. While it might be tempting to help encourage your adolescent to use “natural” sleep aids, such as melatonin, some pediatricians warn that using such substances could have negative long-term effects.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the body’s sleep cycle. It can be purchased as a supplement to aid in falling sleep. The brain releases this hormone when the light of day begins to dwindle, triggering sleepiness with the rising and setting of the sun.
What are The Risks?
According to the Mayo Clinic, melatonin should generally not be used for longer than two months. When the hormone is used in teens, it’s especially important to avoid dependency. Starting off your child’s life with dependency on sleep aids will not help foster a healthy lifestyle and may even lead to dependency problems down the road.
The Mayo Clinic lists side effects of melatonin including daytime sleepiness, headaches, mild anxiety, and stomach discomfort. If you are considering using melatonin to help your teen sleep, do your research, speak to their pediatrician, and understand the possible consequences of using the hormone as a supplement.
Aside from the minor side effects and risk of dependency, using hormone supplements can lead to problems caused by hormone imbalances, such as gynecomastia (male breast enlargement).
Gynecomastia can be caused by artificial hormone usage, and Shelly Weiss, M.D., president of the Canadian Sleep Society, suggests that gynecomastia may be triggered by the use of melatonin (a hormone) in children.
Once it has manifested, gynecomastia rarely goes away on its own, except when triggered by normal hormone fluctuations, or when it is caused by excess fat (pseudogynecomastia).
While not technically dangerous, gynecomastia can produce a number of psychological consequences, and cause the sufferer embarrassment, shame, and distress. Doctors encourage teens and parents to not have surgery before waiting it out for one to two years to see if it will go away on its own. Only after evaluating whether a teen is under extreme duress will a surgeon agree to operate on a teen with gynecomastia.
Unfortunately, the only treatment for true & established gynecomastia is male breast reduction surgery. The results are permanent, and when performed by a surgeon with expertise in gynecomastia treatment, the surgery is typically very successful.
If you or a loved one is suffering from gynecomastia, give us a call. Our New York cosmetic & plastic surgeons are highly skilled in male breast reduction surgery through gland removal and virtually scarless male breast liposuction. For more information, call to set up a free consultation with one of our specialists in either NYC or Long Island today.