School-going children often face a lot of stress due to academic and extracurricular demands. This can interfere with your toddler’s sleep cycle. The problem can get magnified if they don’t receive adequate nutrition. Moreover, excess exposure to computers, video games, television and mobile phones can also cause a lot of disturbance in their sleep patterns.
Now, sleep is essential for the wellbeing and normal functioning of the human body. Typically, a school-going child requires 9-11 hours of sleep every day, as per the National Sleep Foundation. Inadequate sleep can affect both physical and psychological development, impact behaviour, moods, and even learning abilities. Behavioural problems like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are also a result of poor sleep patterns among school children. So, it is important to make sure that your toddler gets sufficient sleep.
Some sleep tips for your school-going child:
- Maintain a regular toddler sleep schedule
- Explain to your child the importance of healthy sleeping habits
- Keep your child away from computer, TV, and mobile phones, before he or she gets ready for bed
- Create a conducive environment (adequate darkness and quietness) in your child’s bedroom
Apart from the tips mentioned above, it is important to note that foods can also impact your child’s quality of sleep. What your child eats especially before going to bed can affect his/her sleep and rest.
To begin with, your child should not go hungry to bed since an empty stomach interferes with good sleep. Feed your child a small snack if he or she has already had a meal but is still hungry at bedtime. This snack can be either fibre-rich or protein-dense, so that it doesn’t allow the sugar level to drop quickly. Otherwise, your child will again feel hungry within an hour or two. A few slices of fruit or a handful of nuts or even a piece of cottage cheese can be a good snack option.
Sleep foods for toddlers
Something simple like a glass of milk can easily induce sleep and can be soothing for your child. Milk can also regulate the sleep/wake cycle since it is a good source of melatonin. The same ingredient is also found in bananas, and it can relax the muscles, giving your kid a good night’s sleep. Honey can be added to the milk, to reduce alertness, so that your child falls asleep easily.
When it comes to cereals, whole cereals are considered to be a good toddler sleep food. You can give your child a bowl of oatmeal, which is a rich source of melatonin. Alternatively, a toasted slice of whole-wheat bread can be given.
Tryptophan, an amino acid found in whole wheat, can act like a sedative. Nuts like peanuts and almonds are good sources of tryptophan. Including potatoes in your child’s diet can clear up the acids which might interfere with tryptophan.
Foods that hinder good sleep
Watch out for caffeine as an ingredient in the foods fed to your child before bed. Chocolates often contain caffeine as a hidden ingredient, which can disturb the sleep cycle. Other caffeinated drinks like aerated beverages, coffee, or tea, can interfere with sleep too.
Apart from the above tips, remember that while whole cereals can induce sleep, refined cereals like white bread, pasta or bakery foods can bring down the serotonin levels and disturb sleep. Serotonin is similar to melatonin, and is a hormone which plays an important role in the sleep/wake cycle.
Hence, choosing the right foods to enable your child to sleep better is a major responsibility. Remember that sound sleep can result in a sound body and a sound mind. It is more essential in case of growing children, since childhood is the stage which lays the foundation for a better future. So, now is the right time to decide which foods to feed your child before bedtime, and which ones to hold back.
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