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Health TipsRecipe

Healthy Sleep – Nutrition tips to help children sleep!

By 24/10/2016May 23rd, 2017No Comments

With the final school term back in full swing, children may be getting excited for the end of year and this excitement can start to impact sleep. As a Mother, I know prioritising your child’s sleep is one of the best ways to support a healthy lifestyle. I also know first hand how quickly a restless night for our child can turn into a restless night for all! Here are some easy nutrition tips to implement into your child’s routine to help promote sound sleep!

Pack a calcium rich snack

Helping your child reach their recommended daily intake of calcium is associated with restful sleep. Specifically low calcium intake may disrupt the deep sleep stage. Children need around 1000-1300mg calcium daily. Some easy ways to help children reach this target include:

  • Serving bircher muesli with yoghurt and milk for breakfast
  • Having a yoghurt and/or soy milk based smoothie as a snack
  • Packing a tub of yoghurt in the lunchbox
  • Making home-made yoghurt ice-blocks for an afternoon or after dinner treat
  • Tossing canned salmons with bones through pasta for a quick lunch
  • Serving leafy greens and broccoli at lunch and dinner time
  • Adding dried figs to trail mixes for a quick energising snack

Serve a snack after dinner

If your child goes to bed hungry, this can cause blood sugar to dip too low during the night. Specifically, when blood sugar dips low, the stress hormone cortisol takes over and kicks in. When cortisol is high, our sleep hormone melatonin is low, so high cortisol during the night causes waking. If your child doesn’t eat a lot for dinner, but then finds itself hungry around bedtime, try serving a protein rich snack before bed, such as

  • A slice of cheese
  • A cup of warm milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Cottage cheese with some fresh fruit
  • A serve of home-made custard as a treat
  • Left-overs from dinner
  • vegetable patties
  • home-made nut and seed slice (if no allergy)

Prioritise Protein

Protein is made up of amino acids and there is one particular amino acid called tryptophan, used to make melatonin, which helps us to fall and stay asleep. A mix of both animal and plant-based protein is best including:

  • 1-2 x boiled eggs
  • 30g piece cheese
  • ¼ cup nuts and seeds
  • 65g piece meat (chicken, beef, lamb, turkey)
  • small can of salmon or fresh fillet of white fish
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tub yoghurt
  • ½ cup legumes

Boost the diet with Vitamin B3 and Vitamin C rich foods

Both vitamin B3 and vitamin C have been studied for their positive effects on sleep.

Ways to add more vitamin B3 to your child’s diet includes:

  • adding flaked tuna to pasta or a rice salad
  • mashing tuna and avocado together to make a dip
  • stir-frying strips of turkey for dinner
  • adding mushrooms to a Bolognese sauce
  • mashing green peas & avocado as a toast topping
  • serving lean pork 1 x weekly

Ways to add more vitamin C to your child’s diet includes:

  • snacking on raw capsicum and carrot
  • bake sweet potato and carrot for dinner
  • use freshly squeezed orange juice as a dressing or meat marinade
  • pack kiwi fruit, papaya and berries as a snack
  • puree cauliflower and serve at dinner time with chicken