How food could affect your child's sleep

Could food be affecting your child's sleep? Here is some information about the Super-Hero Sleepy Foods and the not so good, NON-Sleepy Foods that may have a negative impact around sleep time.

School holiday's and special times like Halloween, may mean that no matter how much you might to try to  monitor sugar and other "treats" on an every day basis, your child's intake may increase during these seasonal few weeks.

Sugar at any time of year (not just Halloween)  may make absolutely no difference at all  to your child's sleep, but for other's (who's parents may feel are more "sugar sensitive" ) it could have some affects. 



What are Sleepy Foods?

 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 consider avoiding around sleep time.

 Good Sleepy Foods

Lets 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 ideally 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 if possible, as they could actually give a boost of energy at just the wrong time! Fizzy drinks may contain chemicals , as well as  sugar, so these are best avoided - if not altogether, then definitely from lunchtime. 


Enjoy the School Holiday's and Happy Halloween!!

Does your child have sleep issues? Please contact us for a free initial assessment, without any obligation.