FOOD CAN PLAY A HUGE PART IN ASSISTING AND PROMOTING SLEEP, OR NEGATIVELY AFFECTING IT
Sleepy foods are the ones that contain Tryptophan. This is an amino acid that is only found in our diet. It is required by our body as part of the eventual production of melatonin - the hormone that produces our sleep/wake cycles.
Our body uses the Tryptophan to produce serotonin.
Serotonin is used to make melatonin
Foods to avoid are the ones that may wake us up by providing a "boost" of energy at exactly the wrong time!
Below is a quick overview of "sleepy foods" that contain our good friend Tryptophan, as well as a list of some "foods to avoid"
Good Sleepy Foods
Let’s start with teatime - opt for brown rice, barley, grains (such as Spelt), and sweet potatoes. These are all better options than their white refined cousins.
Chicken, turkey, cod, tuna, mackerel, and salmon are all sleepy foods, and contrary to popular belief - cheese is also on our list. Go for cheddar, processed cheese, cottage cheese and even tofu.
When picking the vegetables for tea, you could include spinach, asparagus, green peas, broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, cucumbers and potatoes and know that they will all be excellent "sleepy food" choices. Other teatime options are mung bean, soybeans, kidney beans, lima beans, and chickpeas – so humous is good.
Bedtime cereals should be sugar free and "plain". Choose Weetabix, shredded wheat or porridge. You could even try sprinkling a little ground flax seed on (if you can get away with it!) Or if your child prefers a slice of toast for supper, then aim for whole wheat bread.
In the dairy corner, warm full fat milk, yogurt and soya milk can be via a drink or accompanied with cereal, and in the fruit bowl - apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and cherries are good - in fact, cherries actually contain melatonin, so they are pretty high on the list!
Nuts are an option for children who are old enough (and allergy free) and who perhaps do not feel like a "proper" supper - unsalted walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, chestnuts and almonds are good choices, and sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds offer other night time snack choices.
Foods to Avoid
Foods containing caffeine and high levels of sugar should be avoided for 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. This includes all kinds of chocolate, tea, coffee and cola drinks.
Biscuits, sugary sweets and high sugar yogurts are all better eaten earlier in the day, as they could actually give a boost of energy! Fizzy drinks may contain chemicals , as well as sugar, so these are best avoided - if not altogether, then definitely from lunchtime.