Does Zarbee’s nighttime make you sleepy?

Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep with Melatonin Supplement is a popular over-the-counter sleep aid marketed for children ages 2 and up. The active ingredient in Zarbee’s nighttime is melatonin, a hormone produced naturally by the body that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Many parents turn to melatonin supplements like Zarbee’s when their children are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. But does Zarbee’s nighttime really work to make kids sleepy? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

What is melatonin and how does it work?

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin levels in the body naturally rise in the evening and fall in the morning, which helps promote sleep at night and wakefulness during the day. Supplemental melatonin aims to mimic this natural rise in melatonin at night to induce drowsiness and help people fall asleep faster.

When taken as a supplement, melatonin appears to shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, increase overall sleep amounts, and improve sleep quality, especially in people with sleep disorders. However, it’s important to note that melatonin only promotes sleepiness – it does not directly cause sleep. It still requires natural mechanisms in the brain and body for sleep to occur.

Is melatonin safe for children?

In the short-term, melatonin is considered safe for healthy children at recommended doses. However, there is less evidence on the long-term safety of prolonged melatonin use in children. Potential side effects may include:

– Headaches, dizziness, nausea
– Increased bedwetting
– Worsening sleep problems if discontinued suddenly

Melatonin could also interact with other medications and health conditions. As with any supplement, it’s best to consult a pediatrician before giving melatonin to a child. Most experts recommend using the lowest effective dose of melatonin for the shortest time period needed.

Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep with Melatonin


The main active ingredient in Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep is melatonin at a dose of 1 mg per serving. It also contains the following inactive ingredients:

– Purified water
– Natural berry flavor
– Citric acid
– Stevia leaf extract
– Potassium sorbate

The product has a pleasant berry flavor and is free of alcohol, gluten, and drugs. It’s formulated to be easy to administer as a liquid directly by mouth or mixed into water or other beverages.

Recommended Use

The directions recommend giving children age 2-12 one full dropper (1 mL) of Zarbee’s Naturals nighttime liquid 30 minutes before bedtime. It notes the dose can be adjusted by a doctor based on the child’s needs. The packaging warns not to exceed recommended doses.

Evidence it Works

There are very few studies specifically testing the effectiveness and safety of Zarbee’s nighttime liquid melatonin supplement. However, there is some research suggesting melatonin in general may help induce sleepiness in children.

A 2012 analysis of over 1700 children concluded that melatonin use decreased the time it took to fall asleep by an average of 7 minutes, increased total sleep time by an average of 13 minutes, and improved overall sleep quality. Benefits were seen in children with insomnia, autism spectrum disorders, and ADHD. Side effects were minimal.

While promising, larger and more rigorous studies are still needed on long-term efficacy and safety, appropriate dosing, and optimal duration of use. There is also debate around how melatonin compares to other behavioral interventions for childhood sleep problems. More research is warranted before firm conclusions can be made.

Melatonin Dosage for Children

Most melatonin supplements provide dosing recommendations based on age ranges. However, the ideal dosage can vary significantly between individuals. Factors like the child’s weight, medical conditions, reason for sleep problems, and medication use can all impact the ideal melatonin dose.

As a hormone, melatonin should be taken at the lowest effective dose. Here are some general dosing guidelines based on age:

Age 2-3

0.5 – 1 mg melatonin before bedtime
Start with 0.5 mg and increase by 0.5 mg if needed.

Age 4-5

1 – 2 mg melatonin before bedtime
Start with 1 mg and increase by 0.5-1 mg if needed.

Age 6-12

1 – 3 mg melatonin before bedtime
Start with 1 mg and increase by 0.5-1 mg if needed.

For all ages, start with a low dose half an hour before the desired bedtime for 1-2 weeks. If sleep problems persist, the dose can be slightly increased for another 2 weeks. Continue increasing the dose gradually as needed, but do not exceed recommended maximums.

It’s ideal to use the lowest effective dose for the shortest time period needed. Melatonin should be used to establish healthy sleep patterns, not as a long-term sleep aid. Many experts recommend discontinuing melatonin after 3-6 months of use. consult a pediatrician for guidance on proper dosing and duration of use.

Melatonin vs. Other OTC Sleep Aids

Besides melatonin, some other common over-the-counter sleep aids include:

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that causes drowsiness by blocking histamine receptors. It is the active ingredient in medications like Benadryl, Nytol, and Simply Sleep. Compared to melatonin, diphenhydramine has a higher risk of side effects like daytime drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, constipation, and confusion. It also has a greater potential for abuse and addiction. For these reasons, melatonin tends to be preferred over diphenhydramine as a sleep aid for children.

Doxylamine succinate

Doxylamine is another sedating antihistamine used in some OTC sleep aids like Unisom. It can help induce sleepiness but has similar adverse effects and risks as diphenhydramine. As an antihistamine it may also interact with medications that affect histamine. Melatonin has a much lower side effect profile by comparison.


Valerian is an herbal supplement made from the root of the valerian plant. Some studies suggest it may modestly improve sleep latency and quality. However, evidence is still preliminary and optimal doses are uncertain. Melatonin tends to have more consistent and potent sleep-promoting effects compared to valerian.


Chamomile is another herbal remedy sometimes used for insomnia and sleep problems. There is limited evidence it induces drowsiness. It appears much weaker than melatonin for reducing sleep onset latency and improving sleep efficiency. But chamomile may provide a very mild calming effect.

Overall, melatonin stands out as a relatively safe and effective OTC sleep aid option for children compared to antihistamine or herbal alternatives. However, non-pharmacological sleep interventions should still be tried first before turning to any supplements.

Tips for Using Melatonin Safely in Children

If trying melatonin for a child’s sleep issues, here are some tips for safe and effective use:

– Consult a pediatrician first about appropriateness and dosing. Follow prescription instructions closely.
– Give the lowest effective dose based on age and weight. Start low and increase gradually if needed.
– Give melatonin 30-60 minutes before the desired bedtime. Aim for a regular nightly schedule.
– Use melatonin short-term, for 3-6 months or less to establish healthy sleep patterns.
– Try to identify and address any underlying causes of sleep disruptions like anxiety, poor sleep habits, etc.
– Implement good sleep hygiene practices – like limiting screens before bed, nightly bedtime routine, etc.
– Use melatonin in conjunction with other interventions and non-medication strategies. Don’t rely on it as the sole solution. Monitor progress and ask the pediatrician about stopping use if sleep habits improve.
– Watch for side effects like headache, dizziness, nausea, etc. Discontinue melatonin if any worrisome reactions occur.
– Avoid giving melatonin to children under 2 unless specifically directed by a pediatrician.
– Store melatonin securely out of reach of young children to prevent accidental ingestion.

Melatonin can be a useful short-term aid when children are struggling with sleep. But melatonin supplements do not address underlying issues and should not replace healthy sleep practices. Use the lowest dose possible, watch closely for adverse effects, and check with a pediatrician to determine if melatonin is appropriate for your child’s needs.

Facts About Melatonin

Here are some key facts to know about melatonin:

– Melatonin is a natural hormone made in the brain that helps regulate circadian rhythms and promote sleep.
– Supplemental melatonin aims to mimic the body’s nightly melatonin release.
– Melatonin helps reduce sleep onset latency and improve overall sleep quality.
– Short-term melatonin use appears relatively safe for most children but long-term safety is uncertain.
– The ideal melatonin dosage depends on the child’s age, size, and reason for sleep issues.
– Start with the lowest effective dose based on age, and increase gradually as needed.
– Give melatonin 30-60 minutes before bedtime for best results.
– Melatonin should be used for 3-6 months or less, not long-term.
– Melatonin may cause minor side effects like headache, dizziness, nausea.
– Melatonin is not a sleep inducer – natural sleep mechanisms are still required.
– Melatonin works best alongside other interventions that promote healthy sleep.
– Check with a doctor before giving melatonin to ensure appropriate use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to give a 2 year old Zarbee’s melatonin?

Melatonin is generally not recommended for children under 2 except under medical supervision. Zarbee’s melatonin label states it is intended for children 2 and over. However, it’s best to consult your pediatrician before giving melatonin supplements to confirm safety and appropriate dosing based on your child’s health and circumstances. Start with the lowest possible dose. Maximum safety and effects have not been established for melatonin in very young children.

How much melatonin should a 5 year old take?

For a typical 5 year old, a dosage of 1-2 mg taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime is usually recommended as an initial dose. Start with 1 mg and increase by 0.5-1 mg if needed until the desired sleep effects are achieved. The lowest effective dose should be used. Consult your pediatrician for guidance on the ideal melatonin dosage for your individual child.

Can a 10 year old take 5mg of melatonin?

5 mg is at the upper limit of recommended dosing for a 10 year old. Doses of 1-3 mg are more commonly suggested for children ages 6-12. It’s best to start with just 1 mg and increase gradually as needed. 5 mg could potentially cause more side effects. Check with your child’s doctor to determine if a 5 mg melatonin dose is appropriate for your 10 year old’s individual needs. Lower doses often work just as well.

How long before bedtime should a child take melatonin?

Most experts recommend giving melatonin 30-60 minutes before the desired bedtime. This allows enough time for melatonin to start inducing drowsiness so your child feels sleepy as bedtime approaches. Setting a consistent nightly pre-bedtime routine can help maximize melatonin effectiveness.

Can my 8 year old take melatonin every night?

Long-term nightly use of melatonin is generally not recommended, especially in children. Melatonin is best used short-term to establish healthy sleep patterns, typically for 3-6 months or less. It’s not meant as an indefinite sleep aid. Try giving melatonin only as needed when sleep issues flare up, along with good sleep habits. Check with your child’s doctor about the ideal duration of use.

Is it safe to give melatonin to a child long-term?

There is insufficient evidence on the long-term safety of melatonin supplements in children. Potential effects of prolonged nightly use are unknown. Most experts only recommend short-term melatonin use for 3-6 months to help establish healthy circadian rhythms and sleep habits in children. After that time, it’s best to focus on behavioral interventions and try stopping melatonin use under medical supervision. More research is still needed on long-term melatonin safety and effects in children.

Can Zarbee’s melatonin make my child drowsy the next day?

Some children may experience a “melatonin hangover” and feel drowsy, sluggish or groggy the next morning after taking melatonin supplements like Zarbee’s at night. However, daytime drowsiness is more likely with very high melatonin doses. To minimize next day drowsiness, use the lowest effective dose needed for your child (start low and increase slowly if needed). Also aim to give melatonin only on an as-needed basis for short periods, instead of every night. Proper timing of melatonin administration can also help prevent lingering daytime effects.

Is Zarbee’s melatonin gluten free?

Yes, Zarbee’s Children’s Sleep With Melatonin supplement is labeled as gluten-free. The liquid product does not contain gluten ingredients. Zarbee’s states the melatonin is also free of major allergens like dairy, egg, nuts, soy, and wheat. Always double check with the manufacturer to confirm gluten-free status before giving supplements to a child with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

What’s better for sleep: Zarbee’s or melatonin gummies?

Zarbee’s liquid melatonin and melatonin gummy supplements can both be effective for promoting sleep in children. The liquid may be easier to swallow for younger kids. Gummies are more appealing to some older children. Check doses – gummies often provide 3-5 mg melatonin which is likely too much. Zarbee’s liquid gives 1 mg per dose. Choose the lowest effective melatonin dose in the form your child will reliably take. Avoid “natural” melatonin lozenges as doses can vary. Discuss options with your pediatrician.


Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep with Melatonin is a relatively safe and potentially effective OTC sleep aid. While melatonin shows promise for reducing sleep onset delay and improving sleep quality in the short-term, more studies are still needed to confirm ideal dosing, long-term efficacy and safety, and effects compared to other interventions. Melatonin appears most effective when used for limited time periods alongside behavioral strategies that promote healthy sleep habits in children. As with any supplement, consult a pediatrician before use. Follow evidence-based dosing guidelines carefully and monitor your child closely for benefits and adverse effects. Melatonin can serve as a useful occasional sleep aid but should not replace proper sleep hygiene practices in children.

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