by Jacquelyn Nause
Getting adequate rest is key in reducing anxiety and regulating attention in children. Hunger is a common cause of interrupted sleep, which can affect mood and cognitive performance in children. To ensure your little ones are rested up and able to give their best, consider these 10 bedtime snack options that can satisfy hunger while promoting restful sleep.
How Food and Drink Help Sleep
Kids typically expend more energy than their parents over the course of a day, so the need for a snack before bed is easy to understand. Their active brains and bodies need to be refueled frequently in order to keep functioning optimally. It can be especially difficult for children with attention disorders to settle down and sleep at the end of each day.
Research has shown that diet, especially pre-bedtime snacks, can impact our sleep cycles and overall sleep health. However, being too full can also interfere with sleep. The best approach for bedtime is to provide a light snack with a mix of protein and carbs that are low in fiber and sugar.
The snacks listed below work well before bed because they provide things like calcium, melatonin or tryptophan—all which are natural sleep aids. These foods also boost serotonin levels, which can help promote healthy sleep.
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1. Low-Fat Cheese with Whole Grain Crackers
The whole grains offer complex carbohydrates while the cheese adds protein and calcium. Dice an ounce of cheese and serve a handful of crackers about 45 minutes before bedtime to help usher your child off to dreamland.
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2. Turkey Roll-Ups
Turkey is well known for its sleep-inducing qualities. This can be credited to its high tryptophan content, which is thought to improve sleep in a similar way as melatonin. Wrap sliced organic turkey (without sulfates and preservatives) in a whole grain tortilla for a quick and easy bedtime snack.
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3. Almond Butter Toast
Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium and melatonin, which are both natural sleep aids. The whole grains offer additional complex carbs and protein to help kids sleep more soundly.
4. Yogurt and Granola
Yogurt contains tryptophan and is easy to digest, making it an ideal pre-bedtime snack. Mix in granola to add the sleep-inducing benefits of whole grains.
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5. Kiwi and Cottage Cheese
Add another reason to the list of why kiwis are superfoods! Kiwis have been shown to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep as well as improve overall sleep duration and quality. Cottage cheese is high in lean protein and dairy is known to have high levels of tryptophan.
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6. Herbal Tea and Honey
A nightly cup of tea can be its own relaxing ritual. A small cup of chamomile tea with milk is a calming choice for bedtime. Honey boosts glycogen stores in the liver, which helps stabilize blood glucose levels and prevent hunger pangs throughout the night.
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Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, and walnuts and almonds, in particular, have high levels of melatonin. Eating them can increase your child’s melatonin levels, helping them fall asleep faster and wake less often during the night.
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8. Pretzels and Hummus
Chickpeas are a great source of vitamin B6 as well as tryptophan. This combination is beneficial because vitamin B6 helps your body convert tryptophan into serotonin. Pretzels and hummus are a great bedtime snack that can help keep your child’s sleep from being interrupted.
Cherries—especially tart cherry juice—contain melatonin, which is a hormone our bodies produce in order to wind down and relax for sleep. Eating cherries and drinking natural tart cherry juice are powerful ways to induce sleep and promote good rest.
10. Banana Smoothie
Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium, which help muscles relax. They also contain tryptophan, which aids your body in regulating sleep. Blend a banana with calcium-containing milk to help your kids drift off to slumber.
If your child is having trouble sleeping or showing signs of lack of rest, consider their diet and how it may be impacting their sleep cycle. Proper nutrition is key to overall well-being and is closely tied to getting adequate sleep (both of which are part of Brillia’s five pillars). Keep this list of snacks handy for when you are wondering what to offer as a nutritious, sleep-promoting bite before bed.
Jacquelyn Nause is a contributing writer specializing in plant-based diets, parenting and wellness. She enjoys traveling with her husband, being a doting mother to her two incredible kids and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest playground.