null: nullpx

What’s Eating Away At Your Child’s Sleep? How Diet Affects Sleep

21 Oct 2013 – 05:24 PM EDT

Diet affects sleep, so what we feed our kids can affect their sleeping patterns and their health. Sleep is crucial for proper brain and body development; it’s as important as food, in fact. Our kids need to get enough hours of sleep to learn, have a healthy lifestyle, and function well. Naps and appropriate diet lead to better sleeping patterns and happier children.

The Do’s And Don’ts of Diet

How does diet affect sleep? Sugary foods and carbohydrates promote energy; you can allow your child to eat those early in the day, but avoid those foods in the afternoon and evening. Choose foods and snacks that have a slow release of carbohydrates, such as steel cut oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, or fruits such as apples, cherries, plums or pears. For dinner opt for foods with tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps the production of niacin, serotonin, and melatonin, all of which help promote sleep. Food products that contain tryptophan are chicken, turkey, tuna, and soybeans. Avoid caffeine; check labels before serving chocolate, as chocolate syrup and other chocolate products contain caffeine and sugar, and having these in your diet affects sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation states that individuals who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to levels of leptin (a hormone that regulates appetite), which explains the theory that sleep and obesity are linked. For this and other health reasons, it’s crucial that we evaluate how our children’s current diet affects sleep in order for them to have a healthy lifestyle and be happy kids. You can also explain to your children how diet affects sleep and help them understand the importance of sleep to live a happier and fuller life.

How Activities Feed Into Sleep Habits

Adding exercise and sport activities to the daily routine contributes to better sleeping habits too; practicing sports such as biking together helps create a stronger bond with our children. In addition, having a TV and computer use schedule for the kids and the whole family is recommended. Watching TV or playing in the computer for many hours can contribute to lack of sleep. Instead, offer to read your child a book before bedtime while he enjoys a glass of milk.

Are there any foods or activities you curb to help your kids get more rest?