A survey conducted with over 1,300 members of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that an overwhelming number of child psychiatrists prescribe sleeping medication for their patients with insomnia.
Insomnia is common in children suffering from various psychiatric disorders, and 96% of those surveyed said that they regularly prescribe or recommend sleeping medication for their children patients. The medication range from antihistamines to antidepressants and antipsychotics.
A child psychiatrist may be more ready and willing to prescribe a sleeping medication to a child or adolescent than a pediatrician because insomnia often goes hand in hand with other psychiatric disorders. They do this to try to manage the effects of sleep disorders on normal daytime functioning.
The researchers noted however, that despite widespread practice, many practitioners expressed concerns about the appropriateness of these types of medication for children. Previous studies and research has shown that behavioral treatment such as breathing techniques or cognitive therapy can have a direct impact on child insomnia without medication.
The evidence portrayed by this survey led researchers to recommend the development of clinical trials for these medicines in children. They suggest that the mental health professionals should not prescribe or recommend medications to aid in sleep to children until they are more grounded in scientific research.