Melatonin Treatment in Children with Developmental Disabilities

Sleep Med Clin. 2015 Jun;10(2):181-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jsmc.2015.02.008. Epub 2015 Mar 23.


Melatonin is commonly recommended to treat sleep problems in children with developmental disabilities. However, few studies document the efficacy and safety of melatonin in these populations. This article reviews recent studies of melatonin efficacy in developmental disabilities. Overall, short treatment trials were associated with a significant decrease in sleep onset latency time for each of the disorders reviewed, with 1 notable exception-tuberous sclerosis. Reported side effects were uncommon and mild. Across disorders, additional research is needed to draw disability-specific conclusions. However, studies to date provide positive support for future trials that include larger groups of children with specific disabilities/syndromes.

Keywords: Angelman syndrome; Autism; Developmental disabilities; Melatonin; Sleep; Smith–Magenis syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Developmental Disabilities / complications*
  • Developmental Disabilities / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use*
  • Melatonin / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sleep / drug effects
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology*


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Melatonin