Did you know that certain bedtime snacks can promote better sleep? It’s true – foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid that has a sedative-like effect on the body. Tryptophan can be found in many common foods, including dairy products, eggs, soy, turkey, chicken, fish, cheese, oats, wheat, legumes, leafy greens, nuts and seeds. (Here’s the complete list).
But foods that contain tryptophan are most effective at promoting sleep when they’re combined with complex carbohydrates (which aid in delivering tryptophan to the brain) and calcium (which helps the brain convert tryptophan to melatonin, the hormone that makes us drowsy). Foods that contain magnesium and calcium also work well together to help our muscles relax.
Try offering your child one of these healthy, sleep inducing combinations one hour before bedtime, or make up your own. The possibilities are endless!
1. Unsweetened whole grain cereal or granola with milk
2. Whole grain pita with hummus (or spinach dip)
3. Apple slices with low fat cheese
4. Peanut butter on whole grain bread
5. Almond butter on whole grain toast
6. Yogurt with sliced bananas
Alison Bevan – Sleepytime Coach
Pediatric Sleep Consultant – The Center For Advanced Pediatrics