MelatoninIn humans, melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, a small endocrine gland located in the center of the brain but outside the blood-brain barrier. The melatonin signal forms part of the system that regulates the sleep-wake cycle by chemically causing drowsiness and lowering the body temperature, but it is the central nervous system (specifically the suprachiasmatic nuclei, or SCN) that controls the daily cycle in most components of the paracrine and endocrine systems rather than the melatonin signal (as was once postulated).
Infants' melatonin levels become regular in about the third month after birth, with the highest levels measured between midnight and 8:00 AM.
In humans, 90% of melatonin is cleared in a single passage through the liver, a small amount is excreted in urine and a small amount is found in saliva.
Human melatonin production decreases as a person ages. Also, as children become teenagers, the nightly schedule of melatonin release is delayed, leading to later sleeping and waking times.
Sleep CycleRyan has never required much sleep which you can imagine was very hard on us when he was little. I cannot give enough respect to single parents that have to battle this alone. There is no way I would have coped without support from Dadi Skilts taking shifts. As soon as Ryan was diagnosed with Autism the Paediatrician offered us Melatonin on prescription. I had never heard of this and went away to do some research first, but felt from what I had read that is was worth a try. Well, what a difference almost instantaneously from the first night. He SLEPT. Yes slept for his first ever full night.
He took 4mg a night, this proved highly successful and oh wow if we forgot to give it to him. My hubby and I were invited to a very rare night out and my best friend agreed to have Ryan overnight, unfortunately, we forgot to pack his Melatonin and at 11pm she rang me in tears because “she had never seen him like this before”, he was becoming violent because he couldn’t settle and her husband vowed never to have Ryan ever again.
Fortunately, we are all still friends and Ryan does still spend time with them. He gets on really well with her boys and they are a superb family. Jo is my best friend and rock. You need to surround yourself with a good strong support network. My family and in-laws are all amazing and have all helped Ryan to get where he is today.
MedicationJust to say though in the UK it is only available on prescription from the Paediatrician, not even our doctor would prescribe it, so I had to make a phone call every single month as I only got a 30-day script each time, but it was so worth it for us. It, unfortunately, won’t work for every child, but by all means, give it a try it is naturally produced by us anyway it is just that children on the spectrum don’t seem to produce enough of it.
As Ryan has matured the tablets no longer work for him. He still does not sleep well but has learned techniques to amuse himself. He reads or listens to his mp3 player. He knows the rules of no electronics after 9pm and as he has now started puberty his sleep patterns are going all to pot anyway.