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Sleepy foods

There are a variety of food groups which can help with improving sleep. All the foods below have an essential amino acid which may help children get to sleep.

  • Bread – whole wheat bread
  • Fruits – apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, avocados, pineapple, peaches, cherries
  • Seeds – ground flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower seeds
  • Nuts – walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, chestnuts, almonds
  • Cheese – cheddar processed cheese, cottage cheese,
  • Tofu
  • Fish – cod, tuna, mackerel, salmon
  • Vegetables – spinach, asparagus, broccoli, green peas, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, cucumber, potatoes
  • Milk and milk products – traditional milk products (warm), yoghurt, soya milk
  • Meats – chicken, turkey
  • Legumes – mung bean, soybeans, kidney beans, lima beans, chickpeas
  • Grains – wheat, brown rice, red rice, barley, corn, oats

What your child eats during the day impacts on their sleep at night. Avoid them having sugary snacks and anything with caffeine, particularly before bedtime.

Particularly useful foods

Almonds contain magnesium which promote both sleep and muscle relaxation. They also help to keep blood sugar levels stable overnight.

Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium. They also have an amino acid that helps us sleep, but do not forget they also have sugar. Try blending 1 banana with 1 cup of milk or soya milk to make an ideal bedtime drink.

Dairy such as yogurt, milk and cheese have an amino acid that helping us get to sleep more easily. Calcium also helps with reducing stress and despite what you may have heard, cheese does not give you nightmares.

Porridge is an excellent suppertime choice, as it is cheap and easy to prepare and has sleep inducing qualities. It is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and potassium, all of which can help to promote better sleep. You could even add some banana on top.

Cherries can naturally boost melatonin which is the hormone which makes us sleepy. Try offering your child fresh, frozen or dried before bedtime. You can also try cherry juice which can be available at most natural food shops.

Cereal has amino acids which can help us get to sleep easily. Avoid giving your child sugar coated cereals though, these will give them sugar rush and wake them up.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SLP35

Resource Type: Article

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