Study to examine melatonin in kids with ADHD

Little girl playing with paint

A University of Queensland trial could help the families of children with ADHD to get a decent night’s sleep.

Researchers are recruiting participants for the study into the effectiveness of the natural hormone melatonin for children with ADHD who are struggling at bedtime.

UQ School of Medicine’s Dr Jane Nikles says stimulant medication used to help ADHD symptoms can exacerbate sleep problems, with some parents reporting young children regularly still awake at midnight.

“ADHD is a very complex disorder, and these children often have difficulty settling down in the evening,” Dr Nikles says.

“This can be complicated by medications used to treat ADHD, including stimulants such as Ritalin and Dexamphetamine.

“We are investigating whether taking melatonin could make a difference for these children, because sleep is so important for healthy body and brain development.”

Researchers are seeking participants aged between six and 17, who have a diagnosis of ADHD, are being treated with stimulant medication and are experiencing sleep difficulties.

General practitioners and paediatricians all over Australia can refer patients for the study, which involves an individual medication effectiveness test.

Dr Nikles says sleeping activity will be monitored for two weeks in the first phase of the trial.

“Children will then be given either melatonin or a placebo, in blocks of one week each, for six weeks.

“Parents will keep a sleep diary and complete some questionnaires, and children will wear an activity watch to help measure their sleep activity.”

Parents interested in participating in the study can contact Dr Nikles at


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