Working as a Child’s Sleep Consultant in the UAE, I get to meet children struggling to sleep well for various reasons.
Very often I can notice that the evening diet filled with high amounts of sugar or caffeine is closely related to children’s sleep problems.
Sugary and caffeinated foods disrupt children’s sleep. Children who consume high amounts of sugar before bedtime are overstimulated and unable to get a deep sleep during the night. They become restless.
According to the sleep doctor and clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Breus, consuming too much sugar leads to a tendency to eat later in the day as blood sugar levels are going out of control. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that children have healthy and nutritious snacks which can help them to sleep and can keep them full until the next morning. This not only affects sleep but also produces even more sugar cravings the next day.
Several studies have shown an important relationship between children’s bedtime snacks and sleep. When we sleep, the sleep cycle is initiated by the melatonin hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain.
Usually, melatonin level rises in the evening as compared to daytime; that’s why we are most likely to fall asleep during the evening.
There are a lot of foods that contain melatonin. Offering such foods to your kids before bedtime can help them fall asleep easier.
In addition, foods containing tryptophan are also recommended because it improves our sleep. Tryptophan helps our body to make serotonin which is known as the “ happy hormone” preparing us for sleep. Bedtime snacks for toddlers can be offered 30 – 40 minutes before the bedtime routine. You can even offer a few options for your child to choose from.
9 Bedtime Snacks to Help Children to Sleep
# Warm Milk with Cookie
Milk is a great drink choice for toddlers before going to bed, as it helps them stay healthy, strong and aids in growth.
Two main components in milk, melatonin, and tryptophan help kids to stay relaxed and sleep better.
Melatonin is a sleep hormone that assists children to fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.
Tryptophan increases the production of serotonin which is known as the “happy hormone” and makes children feel sleepy.
You can offer a glass of warm milk with a low-sugar cookie to your child or add it to the whole-grain cereal. However, do not use milk as a tool to make your child sleep!
Make sure you offer milk outside your child’s bedroom before you start preparing him for bed.
# Cheese with Crackers
Cheese contains lots of protein and calcium and fills up kids’ bellies. It also contains sleep-inducing tryptophan, which helps children to sleep better.
You can combine a slice of cheese with whole-grain crackers and offer it as a great and filling bedtime snack. Combining crackers and cheese is a great combination because it has carbs and protein.
# Bananas with Almond Butter
Bananas are rich in potassium, vitamin B6 and magnesium which encourages better sleep.
In addition, bananas are also rich in serotonin which our body converts to melatonin – the sleep hormone.
Almond butter is a great source of healthy fat, magnesium, vitamin E, and it also contains some melatonin.
You can offer banana with almond butter dip to fill your child’s tummy and help him to sleep better.
# Yoghurt with Chia Seeds
Yogurt is a great source of calcium and has been linked to better sleep.
Our body needs calcium to make melatonin.
Yogurt and especially Greek yogurt are also rich in protein.
Chia seeds are rich in omega-3, fiber, calcium and contain tryptophan which increases serotonin and melatonin levels. Adding chia seeds to yogurt will allow your child to feel fuller for longer and will help him to sleep better.
Oatmeal is high in carbs, fiber, magnesium, zinc and also has a high concentration of melatonin.
Oatmeal is nutritious and gentle on children’s digestive systems.
Oats can be combined with cinnamon and fruit or nut butter to add taste and to make a great and filling bedtime snack.
Pistachios are a great source of healthy fats, fiber and zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamin B6, and contain high amounts of melatonin.
One ounce of pistachios has about 6.5 mg of melatonin.
Pineapple is one of the best choices you can have to feed your child at bedtime.
It can increase melatonin production more than bananas and oatmeal.
Pineapple is also great for enhancing the digestive system and immunity.
You can offer a few slices of fresh pineapple for your child as a great bedtime snack.
Kiwi is a delicious fruit rich in potassium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E.
These are really good muscle relaxants. Because kiwi has high antioxidant levels and high serotonin levels, it is a great sleep-promoting fruit.
Cherries are a natural source of melatonin that induces sleep.
Cherries are also high in amino acids and antioxidants.
Offer your child a bowl of cherries as a bedtime snack promoting better sleep.
Try to avoid offering cherry juice. It’s better to offer a delicious cherry smoothie instead.
Healthy and nutritious bedtime snacks not only fill the kids’ tummies but also promote better sleep, help them to fall asleep easier, and help them to stay asleep for longer.If you are searching for ways to improve your child’s sleep, start paying attention to your child’s evening diet.
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