Infants & Young Children
October 2002, Volume 15 Number 2 , p 20 - 37
Sleep problems may occur in up to 88% of visually impaired children with developmental disabilities. This can be due, in large part, to the significant role of visual cues, particularly of light/dark cycles, in the establishment of normal sleep patterns. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. Its secretion is stimulated by darkness, and suppressed by light. The use of oral melatonin has recently been used for the management of sleep difficulties in both children with and without developmental disabilities. Promising results have occurred once an accurate diagnosis had been established after thorough history, examination, and (when indicated) a sleep study. The use of sustained-release melatonin may reduce nighttime awakenings and increase total sleep times in patients suffering from circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Therapy may improve cognition, socialization skills, and functioning of the patientʼs entire family unit.