Eat Your Way To A Better Night Sleep

As today is World Sleep Day we thought we would share some key tips about how to improve yours and your children’s sleep through their nutrition and lifestyle.

We do wish to reiterate that whilst food is not going to cure any sleep disorders it can play a key role if you’re simply someone who struggles with your sleep.

  1. Avoid caffeine after 4pm

We tend to think about caffeine as coffee and maybe tea. Although for children they’re much more likely to be consuming it in the form of chocolate, fizzy drinks such as coca-cola and diet coke or even through energy drinks. Of course too much of any of these products are not ideal for our children’s health but if they are consuming them then at least avoid it after 4pm. Caffeine has a half life of 6-hours which means that 6-hours after consuming it half of the caffeine is still swimming around in the blood. Try and avoid giving your children caffeinated drinks or chocolate in the evening if they struggle to sleep.

2. Eat light dinners

We’ve all heard the saying ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper’ but in reality, how many people really stick to this? With today’s society running at double pace and children having more commitments than ever, we tend to leave the biggest meal until the evening. Eating large meals in the evening can disrupt our children’s ability to produce and absorb melatonin (the sleep hormone) due to the rise in body temperature as a result of digestion. Therefore, we recommend having dinner at least 2 hours before hitting the pillow. If this isn’t feasible then we suggest eating a lighter dinner.

3. Eat Your Carbs

Contrary to common belief ‘don’t eat carbs in the evening’, research has shown carbohydrates in the evening can contribute to improved sleep. We recommend consuming complex carbohydrates as these are slower releasing into the blood glucose. Foods such as sweet potato, oats, lentils, chickpeas and quinoa are complex carbohydrates and can help aid sleep. We also recommend consuming foods which contain Tryptophan e.g. nuts, turkey, tofu and tuna as this can help with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

4. Look After Your Gut

There is plenty of emerging research suggesting that gut health plays a role in sleep. As well as the brain, the gut is also responsible for the release of melatonin. Ensuring that you and your children have a healthy gut can contribute to a steady release of melatonin. Make sure you’re consuming the recommended amount of of fibre per day for the appropriate age group.

15g/day for children aged 2-5 years

20g/day for children aged 5-11 years

25g/day for children aged 11-16 years

30g/day for adolescents aged 16-18 years

5. Magnesium

Magnesium plays an important role in nerve conduction and muscle relaxation, consequently it can help you feel more at ease when falling asleep. We recommend incorporating magnesium rich foods such as nuts and seeds, fish, dark leafy greens and beans into the evening meals. Additionally, you or your children can relax in an epsom salt bath (which are rich in magnesium) before hitting the pillow. Rest in the bath for 20 minutes as this allows your skin to absorb the magnesium. Beware though as it makes you very sleepy. We recommend indulging in these on the weekends when you’re less likely to have to be up early.

6. Switch Off

Tech is a huge part of children’s lives today. Whilst there is a time and a place for it, we would advise removing it from your children’s rooms. The blue light can inhibit the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and play havoc with the internal body clock.

There you have our top tips for improving yours and your children’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Please remember though these tips are not suggested to cure sleep disorders.