October 10

Diet can affect your child's sleeping pattern

Statistics suggest that as many as 40% of children have a sleep issue.

Diet can have a huge impact on our lives, even when we are asleep! What we eat during the day can affect how well we sleep at night. Victoria Dawson, founder of 'The Children's Sleep Charity' explores which foods may help and hinder your child's sleep.

Many parents don't realise that the food that children eat during the day can have a knock on effect on sleep patterns. It is important to make sure that your child has enough food to sustain them throughout the night so that they aren't waking due to hunger, you also need to be aware of what sort of food make good sleep snacks!

Avoid sugary snacks during the evening, these can give children a sugar boost and an energy rush just at the wrong time. Biscuits and sugar loaded cereals are best avoided in the run up to bedtime. A better alternative would be something like porridge which slowly releases carbohydrates making children feel fuller for longer.

Dairy products are also good sleep food, fromage frais, yoghurt and cheese all make good choices. Cheese has received a bad press thanks to Charles Dickens' novel 'A Christmas Carol'. Ebenezeer Scrooge blamed a crumb of cheese on causing him to have nightmares and unfortunately cheese has been avoided by many ever since. There is however evidence that cheese can aid restful sleep so cheese on a piece of wholemeal toast can make a good supper time snack. Peanut butter is also a great sleep food helping the body to increase the production of serotonin resulting in nodding off more easily.

Foods that contain tryptophan an amino acid are helpful for promoting sleep. Turkey contains tryptophan which makes us wonder if this is why everybody nods off after Christmas day dinner. Milk also contains tryptophan so it is true that a cup of warm milk can aid rest at night time.

If you are giving your child hot chocolate at bedtime you need to check the label. Many products contain caffeine which can stimulate children, the last thing that you want at bedtime! Bananas are a great source of magnesium which helps to promote muscles and therefore relaxation. They also help the body to create melatonin which makes us feel drowsy!

For more information about our work visit our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheChildrensSleepCharity

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