Yes, you heard it right. There are foods that will help your little one sleep. Just as there are foods (and drinks) that will keep them wired to the ceiling well after bedtime, there are snacks and meals that you can offer that will actually help prepare them for sleep. Who knew? Read on to find out more...
How the body prepare for sleep?
We need a hormone called melatonin to be able to go to sleep. This hormone is produced when rooms are dim, so if you spend time looking at a screen before bedtime, it can affect your sleep when it's time to turn in. In the same way, some foods can affect the body's ability to product melatonin too.
How does food help us sleep?
Some foods stimulate the body so that we find it harder to get to sleep; they do this by producing energy that helps to keep us going a little bit longer. Other foods produce chemicals that can make us sleepy.
Tryptophan is a substance that some foods contain, which makes a brain chemical called Serotonin. Melatonin is created from this chemical, and therefore it is also essential for sleep. So foods that contain Tryptophan can actually help us to sleep better. But- and there is always a but!- they need to be consumed with healthy carbohydrates so that insulin is released in the body in oder for trytophan to work it's magic.
Which foods are good for sleep?
Foods that are good for sleep include:
- Nuts such as almonds, cashews and walnuts.
- Poultry, in particular turkey
- Dairy products – cheeses such as cheddar, gruyere and Swiss cheese have particularly high amounts of tryptophan
- Green leafy vegetables such as cabbage and spinach
- Tofu and soya products
Make the most of supper
So now we know, why not make the most of supper as part of your bedtime routine? Since oats contain lots of the stuff we need to produce melatonin, why not make a bowl of porridge to help your little ones settle down for sleep? Other ideas include:
- Cheese on toast
- Honey on toast
- Banana and peanut butter sandwich
But don't overdo it! There's nothing worse than going to bed uncomfortably full, and the last thing you want is for your little one to wake up with tummy ache.
Foods to avoid
It might go without saying, but there are some foods you might want to steer clear of, especially close to bedtime. So limit the sugary drinks and foods that all kids seem to love, and stay away from greasy/ fatty foods too. Spicy foods aren't great when eaten later on in the day either.
What are your favourite supper snacks for little ones?