GUESTBLOG - The link between nutrition and sleep.
As a sleep consultant, I knew that timing of food and what we feed our children matter and can affect sleep. However, I am not a nutritionist and therefore, it made sense to pull in a favour and ask someone who knows their stuff to take over the blog this week.
Introducing the amazing Kate (Two Small Foodies), Kate studied nutrition three years ago and she also works as a Nanny. She has made the decision to solely focus on children's nutrition and is currently undergoing further studies in this area. Her goal is to write recipes that are both delicious and nutritious and make them accessible to parents. Kate grew up with a family that loved to cook and this is where most of her inspiration comes from. Her instagram handle is @twosmallfoodies, check it out alongside her website. I hope you enjoy reading the invaluable advice below which taught me a lot and is going to help me make some tweaks to my little one's diet and food timings.
A child’s diet has been suggested as the number one cause of sleep problems, especially what they consume around bedtime. Here are a couple of key tips that could help: Try to avoid stimulants in the lead up to bedtime. Sugar is a stimulant, and so is the caffeine that could be in fizzy drinks. If your child drinks fruit juice this could be heavily watered down to reduce the sugar intake - milk and water are the best drink options (for sleep and for oral health).
Try and avoid deserts that could be high in sugar, and in smoothies go for a more milk/yoghurt-based one. Try and stick to whole foods for the evening meal, this will avoid blood sugar levels rising and falling fast and your child feeling hungry again within a couple of hours. Rather than simple carbs or heavily processed foods, focus on fibre and protein.
For snacks, you could offer eggs, whole grains, or nut butter on toast. A yoghurt is also a good option - although be careful of ones that have added sugar.
Foods to include in the last meal: almonds, turkey, kiwi, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), dairy products, bananas, porridge. These are all sources of either tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin or vitamin D. Melatonin regulates your internal clock and signals to prepare for sleep while tryptophan increases the production of the melatonin. Serotonin is also believed to regulate sleep cycles and vitamin D further supports this. Bananas contain magnesium, another sleep-promoting mineral. Find a good evening routine for the last meal of the day, try and keep it more than two hours before they sleep and keep it at a similar time each day. This last meal could follow some fresh air or physical activity and signal the wind down before bed. The consistency of this time could help support a consistent circadian rhythm.