Are your kids eating after dinner? Is this affecting their sleep? Have you ever heard of the term “midnight snack”? This is the term that one may use to describe a meal or snack that they go to eat in the middle of the night. They literally wake up and stumble into the kitchen to grab a little treat before going back to sleep. It may seem like a simple pleasure, but what we eat or drink right before (or in the middle of!) sleep greatly impacts the quality of our sleep.
This is especially true for our developing youngsters. What they eat throughout the day, and even more importantly, before they go to bed will profoundly impact their sleep quality.
What We Must Avoid
This is not exactly breaking news, but there are a handful of things that are big no-nos if you want to get a good night’s sleep. These include the obvious suspects like caffeine. Caffeine from things like sodas will spell real trouble for the quality of sleep as you disrupt natural rhythms within the body when you put this chemical into it.
Caffeine is a stimulant that turns off certain receptors in the brain that let us know that we are tired. While it might be possible for a person to get to sleep after consuming caffeine, it is likely to lead to more restless sleep than they otherwise would have had.
I just learned about Coffee Milk, a drink that kids in my neighborhood here in Newton could choose as part of their school lunch. At my elementary school in California, we only had the choice of milk (and not even low fat milk or chocolate milk!).
What you might not realize is how much caffeine is in drinks like Mountain Dew — 4.50 mgs of caffeine per fluid ounce! This is definely not a drink before bedtime!
Proactive Foods For Better Sleep
It is not a lot of fun to tell a person only what they are not allowed to eat or drink. What about the foods and/or beverages that actually promote healthy sleep? Luckily, there are some of those known to science as well. We will dive into a few of those now.
Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts are a great choice for a kid’s snack before bed. They are filling and have a lot of heart-healthy fats. This allows them to make a person feel more satisfied with their snack than they might otherwise be with something like potato chips. They are also known to contain melatonin which is a chemical that aids in a person’s ability to sleep more deeply.
Calming hot teas are another choice. Make sure you avoid the teas that contain caffeine in them as that would defeat the purpose here. A calming tea is likely to have something along the lines of peppermint or ginger in it. Those are chemicals that make it easier to catch a good night’s sleep.
Fruits are another good choice for any time of the day. Not only do fruits provide us with important vitamins and nutrients that we need to function throughout the day, but they also have that special melatonin chemical that makes sleep easier and more productive.
Before making any rapid change to your diet consult with your pediatrician. It is best to speak with a medical professional who knows the particular needs of your child’s body and how their body may react to various changes. Your doctor is likely to agree with the recommendations made here, particularly the recommendations to give up things like caffeine and alcohol, but you will want to double-check to see if they have additional food or drink recommendations for your life and your routines.
Rather than say no to certain foods or drinks, try sharing this information with your kids, especially when they are tired from not sleeping well. We can’t always police what they eat or drink so knowledge is power!
How about you? Do you eat late at night? What kinds of snacks or beverages help you get a good night’s sleep?
To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.