Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Top 10 Foods to Help Little Ones Sleep Better June 22, 2009

We’ve  certainly had our issues with bedtime. Both our boys require strategic, point-by-point operations before they will agree to close their eyes for the night. We’ve tried everything (and I do mean everything) to put them to sleep, including altering their dinner options to encourage a restful sleep.

Regardless of the book or manuals you read, what works and doesn’t work in parenting is often learned through trial and error. As far as the foods we’ve  been choosing before bedtime, apparently we’ve been following the wrong tack.

While many stand by a high-protein pre-bedtime routine, (citing the side benefits of turkey because it contains sleep-inducing tryptophan), researchers have nixed this connection. It turns out turkey, like most foods, just doesn’t contain enough tryptophan to put you to sleep, explains Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of The Food & Mood Cookbook: Recipes for Eating Well and Feeling Your Best

This comes as a surprise to me. As a former macrobiotic, I thought I knew a thing or two about the food-mood connection. Instead, Somer recommends we choose light but high-carbohydrate snacks in order to boost levels of serotonin (the brain’s sleep chemical) without overloading  the digestive system. Of course, it never hurts to wash them down with something warm and soothing, such as a cup of herbal tea (chamomile or lemon balm) or warm milk. Perhaps I’ll try incorporating a little tea-party ritual with the boys before bedtime.

The Top 10 Foods to Promote Sleep
Try one of these yummy foods about an hour before bedtime. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your little one (and you!) get a good night’s rest tonight!

  • A 4-ounce baked potato topped with salsa
  • Half of a whole-wheat English muffin or raisin bagel drizzled with honey
  • 1 slice whole or multi-grain bread smeared with almond or cashew butter
  • Half a cup of pasta topped with marinara sauce
  • 2 cups air-popped popcorn
  • Fresh strawberries dunked in a little fat-free chocolate syrup
  • A handful of oyster crackers and one piece of fruit
  • A small slice of angel food cake topped with berries
  • A frozen whole-wheat waffle, toasted, with maple syrup
  • Half a cup of pretzels   
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4 Responses to “Top 10 Foods to Help Little Ones Sleep Better”

  1. Sometimes letting kids get way beyond tired is the cause of
    little guys not being able to go to sleep. They are overly stimulated. If you really stay tuned in, and as soon as those signs of crankiness begin to set in – put them down to sleep.
    From experience, (our son is now 21) when our son began the crankiness, it was really his way of saying “I have had enough.”
    Tune in and take notice.

  2. rjlacko Says:

    Thanks, slgreatsuccess!
    I do have a question about that… I’ve noticed that crankiness and sleepiness go hand in hand. However, there are PLENTY of days when the mere act of snuggling in bed and reading books is enough to send my 2-year-old through the roof. When he is determined not to sleep, he means business, and he can keep up the wailing of protest for houuuuuurrrs. Ideas?

  3. […] When I read Rebecca Lacko’s blog – “Top 10 Foods to Help Little Ones Sleep Better” […]


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