To Ensure a Good Night’s Sleep for Children

Posted with permission from Pathways: Modified excerpt from: Eating Right for Sleep by Patti Teel.

What you eat and when you eat can affect how you sleep. Some foods and bedtime snacks are likely to help your child sleep and some foods should be avoided:

• Eat foods rich in B vitamins. Sources of B vitamins include whole grains, legumes, organ meats, raw nuts and seeds, mushrooms, deep sea fish, eggs, meat and dark green vegetables.

• Eat foods rich in magnesium. Food sources include nuts, whole grains, sunflower seeds, legumes, whole grains, avocados and raisins.

• Avoid late afternoon or evening caffeine & sugar consumption. Sodas are usually a huge source of both sugar and caffeine.

• Avoid eating dinner any later than three hours before bed if it seems to energize your child. Eating too late at night raises the metabolic rate and energizes some children.

An evening bedtime snack that contains tryptophan can encourage a good night’s sleep. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the brain converts into the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Serotonin is then converted into

melatonin, which assists in sleep. Many children find a glass of warm milk calming and it is a good source of tryptophan.

Other sources of tryptophan include:

Cottage cheese, yogurt, pineapples, plums, bananas, eggs, turkey, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews and peanuts.

It’s best to combine these tryptophan-rich foods with complex carbohydrates like whole grain cereals, bread or potatoes; it helps the brain to absorb the tryptophan.

Bedtime snack suggestions:

Whole grain cereal with milk, oatmeal with milk, peanut butter sandwich with ground sesame seeds, oatmeal cookies with milk.

If your child has a bedtime snack, have it half an hour to an hour before bed.

Modified excerpt from: Eating Right for Sleep by Patti Teel. Read more in Pathways at