Putting your child to bed (and to sleep!)is one of the many challenges of raising active children. It’s hard to blame your little bundle of energy for not wanting to stop playing, especially when they’re wearing superhero pajamas and both mommy and daddy are home. Yet a good night’s sleep is vital. If a consistent, calming bedtime routine fails to lure your child to slumber, have you considered his or her diet in the hours before bedtime?
We all know that some foods, like acidic or peppery-hot eatables, sugary snacks, and caffeinated beverages, can wreak havoc on sleep. Fortunately, there other foods that have the same effect on children as lettuce does on the rabbits in Beatrix Potter’s famous stories, lulling the little ones into comfortable slumber.
Check out these five night-time calming snacks to help your kids get to sleep.
Bananas are a quick, healthy treat that are easy to digest and filled with mineral nutrients like potassium and magnesium. A body needs both these minerals to promote muscle relaxation. In fact, a deficiency can contribute to a tendency for muscle cramps.
Bananas also have an amino acid that is a building block for two vital biochemicals.
The first is serotonin, a neurotransmitter whose many functions include the body’s perception of its physical needs, such as hunger and sleep. The second is melatonin, a hormone that is vital in the regulation of the body’s sleep-clock.
Cherries are one of the few natural food sources of the hormone melatonin. Eating a handful of these sweet and juicy berries an hour before bedtime allows time for the natural melatonin to kick in. Dried cherries and natural cherry juice (very tart, but best without the complications of added sugar) can also deliver the goods.
A bowl of oatmeal isn’t just warm and comfortably filling, but also offers up a carbohydrate-induced spike in blood sugar. The spike causes an increase in insulin as well as the usual cascade of neurotransmitters that help induce calmness and sleep. The jolt of B-vitamins doesn’t hurt, either. Mix in some sliced banana for a double-whammy of slumber-promoting power.
It’s an American tradition to gorge on turkey at least one time a year and then experience that lovely sinking sensation afterwards, when all you want to do is doze on the couch.
That sleepy sensation is due to high levels of the amino acid tryptophan, a necessary precursor to many neurotransmitters involved in mood and sleep. Offer up a few slices of rolled-up deli turkey to your child as a night-time snack to take advantage of this natural soporific. The protein will help, as well, to make him feel full and satisfied through the night.
Yes, your mother was right. A nice glass of milk before bed can help induce a deep and restful sleep, in part because of milk’s significant levels of tryptophan. The calcium and minerals help too.
There’s no single solution to childhood sleep battles, but using a little dietary magic can help stack the deck in your favor.