How Food Affects Your Child’s Sleep

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how diet affects your child's sleep

When our kids don’t sleep, we don’t sleep either. It is one of the hardships that come with being a parent. The world, unfortunately, doesn’t stop or pause for us to catch up on the sleep that we need – we must get up and go about our day, go to work, get our kids off to school, come home and maybe make dinner or get our kids off to activities or play dates. We then try and get our kids to bed, and if it doesn’t go well, it makes for a very long night.

What if I told you that it could be your child’s diet that is affecting their sleep or lack thereof?

We can help our children get a better night’s rest by ensuring they are getting the nutrients they need through their diet. Our brains need the hormone Melatonin in order to signal to the rest of our body that it is time for sleep. Melatonin is created by the amino acid Tryptophan. We can help our children sleep by ensuring that they get Tryptophan into their bodies through food. Other nutrients that are great for healthy sleep habits are Omega 3’s, calcium, and magnesium. When our children consume empty calories throughout the day such as packaged snack foods, their bodies are not capable of producing sleep hormones. This, in turn, leads to a restless night that affects our children in more ways than one. Their health, school performance and behaviours may all be affected as a result.

What can we do as parents?

Avoid these foods (especially close to bedtime!)

  • Sugary foods and snacks
  • Soda
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Juice
  • Frozen dinners
  • Food colouring and preservatives

Foods to Include

  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Papaya
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Salmon
  • Pineapple
  • Dark leafy greens (try them in a smoothie!)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
how diet affects your child's sleep

More Healthy Sleep Tips

Keep a Food & Mood Journal

Whether your child is at school, daycare, or at home with you, write down what your child is eating.  Write down the food or drink that they have consumed and keep track of their behaviour following the consumption of said food or beverage. You may not notice anything, but you may notice a change in their behaviour. You may also find a correlation between what they eat and whether or not they sleep well that evening. See a brief example below!

      DAY OF THE WEEK

FOOD

MOOD

Monday Smoothie with banana, strawberries, and kale.

Granola bar

Pizza

Happy, eager to start the day

Hyper

Sore tummy, low mood

Tuesday Apple juice from concentrate

Veggies and chicken

Banana

High energy, followed by a grumpy mood

Happy and energetic

Sleepy and ready for bed

Routine is Key

Children, no matter what age, thrive on routine. Having a regular routine each night creates healthy habits for sleep. This is due to the fact that they know what to expect. Try a bath, storybook and bedtime routine. It should only be 30 to 45 minutes long, and the same each night. Try a dark room as well, melatonin also is produced in darkness.

how diet affects your child's sleep

Happy sleeping to both you and your little ones!

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Jenna StandishContributor
Jenna Standish is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Reiki level one practitioner and RMT student. She gets excited about all things nutrition, fitness and personal development but her biggest passion of all is being a Mom to her sweet baby girl, Lennon. Since becoming a mother in 2017, Jenna’s dream has changed to guide and empower women to become the healthiest and happiest versions of themselves. She loves to motivate women to take control of their body, mind and spirit health so that they can show up as their best selves every day, especially for their families. Follow her on Instagram to receive tips, tricks, free recipes, health and wellness advice.


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